US Senator Don Nickles
About the
for Oklahomans

July 12, 1999

Nickles Opens Managed Care Debate Promising to Put Patients First

WASHINGTON--Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles today opened debate on competing managed care reform plans promising to put patients first.

"During the last year, the debate on managed care reform has, unfortunately, become highly politicized," Nickles said. "I am pledging today to put the interests of patients first. Putting patients first means fighting for patient protections, better quality health care, and access to the best doctors and specialists available.

"It also means fighting against proposals that would increase health care costs, cause Americans to lose their health insurance and put a massive federal bureaucracy between patients and their doctors."

Nickles chaired the seven-member Republican Task Force on Health Care Quality, which wrote the Patients Bill of Rights Plus. The bill:

Protects the unprotected by providing for patients not covered by existing law a Bill of Rights, including guaranteed emergency room care, direct access to an OB-GYN or pediatrician and the ability to see the doctor of their choice.

  • Educates consumers by requiring health plans to provide a wide range of comparative information.

  • Empowers consumers by providing a timely and inexpensive appeals procedure for all patients to contest a denial of coverage.

  • Frees patients to use advanced research by prohibiting health plans from discrimination based on genetic testing.

  • Improves quality by expanding research and improving distribution of information on state-of-the-art treatment to doctors around the country.

  • Creates new opportunities for covering the uninsured by enacting provisions to make health insurance more affordable and accessible.

Unlike the Democrat alternative, Nickles' bill provides these new protections without causing huge premium hikes resulting in more uninsured Americans.

"Forty-three million Americans are currently uninsured and many more live with the anxiety that they will lose their employer-sponsored health plans if premiums go up," Nickles said.

Nickles was joined at a Capitol Hill news conference by several small business owners who came to Washington to urge the Senate not to pass legislation that would increase premiums. They were: Lynn Scherr Bowles, President of Scherr's Refrigeration Company in Richmond, VA; Ann Casey, President of The Parcel Place, Baltimore, MD; and Richard Gallo, President of The Office Outlet, Indiana, PA.