Patients Bill of Rights By Friday

Press Release
June 16, 1999

Daschle Presses Republicans Leaders To Bring Up
Patients Bill of Rights By Friday

Says Americans Need Patient Protections Now

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Daschle today pressed Republican leaders to bring legislation that would guarantee patients' protections to the Senate floor before Friday, saying the bill is too important to the health and well-being of Americans to be blocked any longer.

Daschle said if Republican leaders refuse to bring the "Patients Bill of Rights" up on its own before Friday, he will offer it as an amendment to other legislation.

"The American people have been kept in the waiting room for too long. Unless Republican leaders agree this week to allow a real debate on HMO reform this month, we will begin next week offering our Patients' Bill of Rights to other bills. We will not allow the American people to be kept waiting any longer. They need real, enforceable health care protections now -- this year," Daschle said.

Daschle comments were part of a press conference held on Wednesday to emphasize the need to pass patient protections and to explain the difference between the Democratic and Republican patient protection bills.

"We still have not seen the bill Senate Republican leaders say they intend to offer as their solution to mis-managed care. From what we understand, though, there are major, life-and-death differences between what they are proposing, and what we are proposing. They exclude many necessary protections altogether. And those they do include are, in almost every case, half-measures that simply won't do the job."

Daschle's patient protection bill would: 1) Guarantee patient access to needed medical specialists and emergency room services; 2) Allow patients to appeal to an independent body a medical decision made by their HMO; 3) Hold health plans accountable for medical decisions that harm patients.

"The Democratic bill covers everyone with private health insurance. No fine print, no loopholes, no exceptions. Most of the protections in the Republican leadership bill cover only people in self-insured plans. They leave out two in three people with private insurance -- more than 100 million Americans."

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