-- For Immediate Release --
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Senators Offer Bipartisan Plan to Improve Health Care for 164 Million Americans

WASHINGTON -- As partisan debate over H.M.O. reform reached a fever pitch on the Senator floor, a bipartisan coalition led by U.S. Senators Bob Graham (D-FL) and John Chafee (R-RI) today offered a way out of the logjam: a compromise Patients' Bill of Rights that offers strong patient protections -- and moderates or eliminates the most controversial elements of the partisan managed care reform proposals.

Graham and Chafee -- who were joined by U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Max Baucus (D-MT), Chuck Robb (D-VA), and others -- announced that they would try and offer their bipartisan plan as an amendment on the Senate floor. Debate on the H.M.O. Patients' Bill Of Rights is scheduled to conclude late Thursday.

"This is our last, best chance to put patient protections before politics," said Graham. "If the Senate doesn't act in a bipartisan fashion, we will have doomed 164 million Americans to yet another year of inadequate managed care coverage."

The Graham/Chafee plan has been praised by medical and consumer groups like the National Association of Children's Hospitals, American Cancer Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, and Families USA. It would:

Graham, Chafee, and the bipartisan coalition originally introduced their proposal in July of 1998, during the 105th Congress, and re-introduced it in February of 1999.

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