U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Jennifer Frost/Shannon Tesdahl

June 8, 2000

Statement of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)
at a Press Conference to Urge Senate to Pass a Meaningful Patients' Bill of Rights

Harkin, a conferee on the Patients' Bill of Rights, today joined Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Representative John Dingell (D-MI), Representative Charlie Norwood (R-GA) and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) at a press conference to announce their intentions to offer the Norwood-Dingell bill as an amendment to Defense Authorization which is currently pending on the Senate floor.

"When we began the conference, I had high hopes. The Republican leadership told us how committed they were to meaningful patient protection.

"It's been over seven months since the House passed its common sense, bipartisan bill, and almost a year since we had this debate in the Senate. Since that time, the Conference has successfully finalized agreements on two provisions out of twenty-two. TWO.

"This is unacceptable. If members of Congress faced the same health care struggles as the average American, this bill would not only have gotten DONE, it would've gotten done years ago.

"It's clear that Senate Republicans aren't willing to give all Americans the patient protections and rights they enjoy.

"Instead, they're prescribing a Patient's Bill of Rights which is nothing but a sugar pill for the HMO's, and they're hoping that we don't call them in the morning. This Congress is becoming an insurance company for the managed care industry to make sure that they keep their profits.

"The American people have been in the waiting room long enough. It's time we passed a real Patient's Bill of Rights."


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