Press Release
September 21, 2000

Daschle Continues to Press Congress to Pass Effective
"Patients' Bill of Rights" Before it Adjourns For the Year

Senator Participates in Special Capitol Hill Hearing on the Issue

WASHINGTON, D.C. Senator Tom Daschle said today that Congress should not adjourn for the year with out passing an effective "Patients Bill of Rights" for families in South Dakota and across the country.

Daschle made his statement at a special hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill, where he was joined by other Democratic Senators and several healthcare specialists. He said millions of people in South Dakota and across the country lack basic protections, including access to needed medical specialists and emergency room services, and the right to hold insurance companies accountable when their decisions lead to a patient's injury or death.

"The time has come for Congress to guarantee that American families and their doctors not their insurance companies -- can decide what type of medical care they receive," Daschle said. "Every week that the Senate fails to act, insurance companies delay or deny medical care to 350,000 Americans. If Republican leaders will allow a vote on our Patients' Bill of Rights, we can pass it in 20 minutes. We have the support. Surely in the last three weeks of this Congress, we can find the time to pass a much-needed Patients Bill of Rights."

Daschle's legislation closely mirrors a bipartisan bill that overwhelmingly passed the House last October that would address the problems faced by families enrolled in managed care plans. His legislation includes:

Protection for all Americans with private insurance

Coverage of needed emergency care

Access to needed specialists

An independent appeals process that delivers timely decisions when HMOs deny coverage

The right to hold your health plan accountable when its decisions to deny or delay care lead to injury or death.

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