March 18, 1999
WASHINGTON--Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles today applauded the work of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on the Patient Bill of Rights.
"I want to congratulate Chairman Jeffords and the other committee members for their good work on this bill," said Nickles, who chairs the Senate Republican Task Force on Health Care Quality. "I am pleased the Patient Bill of Rights is moving along in a productive, deliberative fashion and I credit especially the work of the Chairman and those committee members who served on the task force - Senators Collins, Frist and Hagel.
"We worked tirelessly last year to develop a responsible, thoughtful bill to protect patients and improve health care quality without raising your premiums or putting bureaucrats and lawyers between you and your doctor. We are proud of our work and proud of the fact that 50 senators are cosponsors of our bill. I think that is a clear indication of our commitment to patient protections.
"Unfortunately, the issue of managed care became extremely politicized last year and as a result the Congress ended without any new protections for patients enacted into law. No patient in America is better off this year than they were last year.
"If this bill passes, all consumers will have the right to a timely appeal to an independent medical expert. The traditional role of the states to oversee the needs of their citizens will be preserved, rather than creating a one-size-fits-all federal solution. And we will extend protections to guarantee patients access to emergency room care, direct access to ob-gyns and pediatricians, open communications between them and their doctors, and expanded information about plans and their providers.
"If we are to get any of this enacted into law this year, we will have to commit to progress over politics," Nickles said.