January 15, 1999
WASHINGTON--Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles and members of the Republican Health Care Task Force announced today that they will re-introduce their Patient Bill of Rights.
"As many of you know, this task force worked tirelessly last year to develop a responsible, thoughtful bill which would allow consumers to hold HMOs accountable, increase access to health care, improve quality and expand choice," Nickles said. "We were proud of our work and we were proud to have the majority of our caucus' support.
"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.
"It is our intention for this debate to move forward this year in a productive, deliberative fashion utilizing the committee process," Nickles said. "It is our hope that the Democrats will join us in a bipartisan effort."
Nickles said the bill to be introduced will adhere to a commitment by Senate Republicans last year that they would not: make health care unaffordable; drive more Americans into the ranks of the uninsured; put additional layers of bureaucracy between patients and their doctors.
"In preserving our principles we have crafted a bill which protects the unprotected by giving all consumers the right to a timely appeal to an independent medical expert; preserves the traditional role of the states to oversee the needs of their citizens and not pass a one-size-fits-all federal solution; increases choice and access to all Americans with real Medical Savings Accounts, 100-percent deductibility of health care costs for the self-employed and greater flexibility for employees who utilize flexible spending accounts," Nickles said.