Of Inaction and Pass An Effective Patients' Bill of Rights

Press Release
March 2, 2000

Daschle Presses House-Senate Negotiators to End Months
Of Inaction and Pass An Effective Patients' Bill of Rights

Says Medical Decisions Should be Made By Doctors & Patients, Not Insurance

WASHINGTON, D.C. Senator Tom Daschle said American families and their doctors should decide what type of medical care they receive not their insurance companies as House-Senate negotiators finally began work today on urgently needed patient protection legislation.

Daschle said negotiations over a final "Patients' Bill of Rights" began Thursday after months of inaction by Republican Congressional leaders. He said for too long, the nearly 161 million Americans now in managed care plans have lacked 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.

"American families have waited for far too long for Congress to end the delays and pass effective patient protections," Daschle said. "Now that House-Senate negotiators have finally begun work on this legislation, I will press them to answer the critically important question of who should make medical decisions doctors, or insurance company accountants. This legislation can make a real difference for millions of Americans, so we must ensure that final legislation provides real patients protections."

Daschle said as negotiators work out the differences between House- and Senate-passed legislation, he will push for a final measure that is similar what the House passed five months ago. He said the Senate bill, passed last summer, covered only 48 million of the 161 million in managed care plans.

"I didn't support the Senate version of this bill because it did not represent meaningful reform," Daschle said. "It still leaves insurers and HMOs in charge of medical decisions. I hope that the final legislation will more closely resemble the bipartisan House bill, which has real patient protections."

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