April 7, 2000

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jim Manley
(202) 224-2633

Seven months have elapsed since the House of Representatives passed the bi-partisan Norwood-Dingell bill to end insurance company and HMO abuses, and more than six months have passed since House and Senate conferees were appointed to prepare the final version of this important measure.

Today, I am releasing a new study by the Minority Staff of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that documents how devastating this long delay has been for millions of Americans and their families, and how urgent it is for the House-Senate conference to complete its work as soon as possible.

Drawing on data gathered by the University of California School of Public Health and the Harvard School of Public Health, the report documents unacceptably high numbers of patients who are denied needed care, who suffer increased pain, or whose health has seriously declined because too many HMOs and insurance companies put profits ahead of patients.

According to the study, 59,000 patients each day -- 22 million patients a year -- report added pain and suffering as the result of the actions of their health plans. Large numbers of patients have specialty referrals delayed or denied. Others are forced to change doctors. Still others are forced to take prescription drugs that are different from the drugs their doctor prescribed.

In addition to patients' reports of significant problems as the result of actions of their health plans, thousands of physicians report seeing patients every day whose health has seriously declined as the result of abuses such as the failure to cover recommended prescription drugs, denial of needed diagnostic tests and procedures, and unwillingness to allow referrals for specialty care.

This study provides powerful new evidence of the need for Congress to move promptly to pass a strong Patient's Bill of Rights. Millions of families are suffering because of the failure of Congress to act. Families across America deserve protection, and it is time for Congress to fulfill its responsibility and see that they get it.