|WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator Tom Daschle said
today that it's long past time for Congress to guarantee that American
families and their doctors can decide what type of medical care they
receive – not their insurance companies, and he pressed legislation on the
Senate floor to guarantee patient protections. Daschle said he is
determined to enact a "Patients' Bill of Rights" this year to deal with
the problems faced by families enrolled in managed care plans. 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, he said.
"Every day, we receive more evidence that patients face real problems with HMOs," Daschle said. "In the last year, over 50 percent of Americans had a problem with their HMO, and nine of 10 doctors report that an HMO has denied their patients recommended care. In many of those cases, the patients' health suffered because they were refused proper care. It is long past time for us to pass effective patient protections. We can make a real difference for millions of families in South Dakota and across the country by passing my amendment."
Daschle's legislation closely mirrors a bipartisan bill that overwhelmingly passed the House in October. He said he offered it as an amendment because it is far superior to the bill passed by the Senate last year, which lacked needed protections and did not cover all Americans. The 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; and
• 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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