For Immediate Release:
July 7, 1999
Contact: Don Marshall 202-224-6101
CHARLESTON -- U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) today listened to consumers about the need for managed health care in West Virginia. As part of a roundtable discussion, Rockefeller listened to HMO patients and members of the medical community, hearing about they face when dealing with managed care organizations.
"For too long patients have been the forgotten element in the health care debate, while insurance company bureaucrats have been allowed to manage more and more health care decisions," Rockefeller said. "Patients need to trust that providers are acting in the best interests of the patients, not the insurance company. Today, I wanted to hear what West Virginians are saying about their health care coverage and how it can better serve them."
Attending the roundtable were: Steve Jarrett, a state employee; Janice Parfitt, a Wood county resident; Jennifer Daniels, an employee at UMWA Health and Retirement Funds Office in Charleston; Diana Williamson, Office Manager for Neurological Associates in Charleston; and Dr. Diane Muchant, a pediatric kidney specialist at WVU.
Rockefeller continued, "After much partisan fighting, the Republican leadership in Washington finally agreed to allow a full debate on the Patients Bill of Rights - legislation that will reform managed care in our country. Before this debate begins next week, I wanted to hear from some West Virginians who have had to deal with HMO's."
Congressional Democrats have introduced a Patients Bill of Rights' that would give patients more choice, protection and proper access in their health care services. Republicans have offered more limited alternative legislation.
The Democrats' Patients Bill of Rights' seeks to provide fundamental protections for all privately insured Americans. The legislation says that patients have access to the closest emergency care facility without prior authorization or higher cost. In addition, the bill says that patients should have access to qualified specialists and out-of-network providers. The Patients Bill of Rights' ensures that patients have access to clinical trials and drugs off an HMO's list when necessary. The bill also says that a woman can declare an obstetrician/gynecologist as her primary care doctor and maintains that HMOs cannot interfere with health decisions and are held accountable for mistakes they make.
For more information on the Patients Bill of Rights or to sign the Patients Bill of Rights petition, go to www.familiesusa.org/pbr.