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Lastly, the legislation includes hydro injection and horizontal drilling as tertiary recovery methods for purposes of

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the Enhanced Oil Recovery Credit. Although the Treasury Department is tasked with continued evaluations and editions to the list of recovery methods covered under this credit, they have proven notably lax in pursuing this objective. By legislating this outcome, this bill keep s domestic production of our endangered marginal wells on the cutting edge of available technology.

   Collectively, the provisions of this bill prov ide much needed incentives to an industry that is vital to our national security. The sooner the Administration and Congress acknowledge the critical importance of the domestic oil and gas industry and stop burdening this industry with high taxes and regulatory obstacles, the sooner we can take the necessary actions to preserve and revitalize this important sector of our economy. Passage of the U.S. Energy and Economic Growth Act would be a significant step in that direction. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation which will positively impact the domestic oil and gas industry by helping to bridge the gap in these lean economic times.

    Mr. BURNS. Mr. President, I rise today to join Senator HUTCHISON, many members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and other Senators who recognize the importance of our domestic energy market in presenting the United States Energy Economic Growth Act. This act is extremely important given the current state of our domestic oil and gas industry. The current market, coupled with government inaction and misguided regulation, has created an environment that is forcing many of our producers out of the energy market.

   I have risen many times before, and unless things change I will rise many times again, to voice my concern over that fact that we are running our producers into the ground. Agriculture, timber, mining and energy; it doesn't seem to make a difference these days which natural resource market you work in, you don't get a fair price for an honest day's work.

   This morning in the Energy and Natural Resource Committee, we had a hearing on this very problem. I must say, I heard some of the best testimony that I have ever heard before a Senate Committee. It just made good sense. We didn't have people asking for handouts. We didn't have people placing blame. We had some hard working oil and gas producers, state governors and representatives of oil and gas producing states outline the problem and offer solutions.

   One of the biggest problems discussed was the loss of domestic production capability in the form of marginal wells. We are losing these wells at an alarming rate. As a result our reliance on foreign energy sources is skyrocketing. We are running our producers out of business, increasing our dependence on foreign oil, and throwing our trade balance askew.

   This legislation will help our independent producers running marginal wells stay in business. Much more needs to be done, but this bill will help relax the heavy hand of government on an ailing industry. As pointed out this morning, the current administration stepped in to help the straw broom industry when less than a hundred jobs were at risk. It's time this Congress takes a stand, and hopefully the administration will join us, in supporting an industry where tens of thousands of jobs, our national security, and our economic well-being are all being placed at risk.


   S. 326. A bill to i mprove the access and choice of patients to q uality, affordable health care, to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.


    Mr. JEFFORDS. Mr. President, today, I am proud to join with eight other members of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in introducing the ``Patients' Bill of R ights.'' I think it is solid legislation that will result in a greatly improved health care system for Americans.

   As Chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, with its jurisdiction of private health insurance and public health programs, I anticipate that the Committee will have an active health care agenda during the 106th Congress, including early consideration of patient protection legislation. In fact, on January 20th, the Committee held a hearing on the Department of Labor's proposed rules on health plan information requirements and internal and external appeals rights. >   Last week's hearing builds on the foundation of 14 related hearings, which my Committee held during the 105th Congress. These included 11 hearings related to the issues of health care quality, confidentiality, genetic discrimination, and the Health Care Financing Administration's (HCFA) implementation of its new health insurance responsibilities. And Senator BILL FRIS T's Public Health and Safety Subcommittee held three hearings on the work of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR). Each of these hearings helped us in developing the separate pieces of legislation that are reflected in our ``Patients' Bill of R ights.''

   People need to know what their plan will cover and how they will get their health care. The ``Patients' Bill of R ights'' requ ires full information disclosure by an employer about the health plans he or she offers to employees. Patients also need to know how adverse decisions by the plan can be appealed, both internally and externally, to an independent medical reviewer.

   The limited set of standards under the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA) may have worked well for the simple payment of health insurance claims under the fee-for-service system in 1974. We have moved from a system where an individual received a treatment or procedure, and the bill was simply paid. In our current system, an individual frequently obtains authorization before a treatment or procedure can be provided. And it is in the context of these changes that ERISA needs to be amended in order to give participants and beneficiaries the right to appeal adverse coverage or medical necessity decisions to an independent medical expert.

   Under the ``Patients' Bill of R ights,'' e nrollees will get timely decisions about what will be covered. Furthermore, if an individual disagrees with the plan's decision, that individual may appeal the decision to an independent, external reviewer. The reviewer's decision will be binding on the health plan. However, the patient maintains his or her current rights to g o to court. Timely utilization decisions and a defined process for appealing such decisions is the key to restoring trust in the health care system.

   Another important provision of the ``Patients' Bill of R ights'' woul d limit the collection and use of predictive genetic information by group health plans and health insurance companies. As our body of scientific knowledge about genetics increases, so, too, do the concerns about how this information may be used. There is no question that our understanding of genetics has brought us to a new future. Our challenge as a Congress is to quickly enact legislation to help ensure that our society reaps the full health benefits of genetic testing, and also to put to rest any concerns that the information will be used as a new tool to discriminate against specific ethnic groups or individual Americans.

   Our legislation addresses these concerns by prohibiting group health plans and health insurance companies in all markets from adjusting premiums on the basis of predictive genetic information; and it prohibits group health plans and health insurance companies from requesting predictive genetic information as a condition of enrollment.

   Many of our colleagues argue that the current accountability structure of ERISA is insufficient to protect patients from bad decisions made by health plans. They would like to hold health plans accountable by removing the ERISA preemption and allowing group health plans to be sued in State court for damages resulting from personal injury or for wrongful death due to ``the treatment of or the failure to treat a mental illness or disease.''

   Mr. President, patients alre ady have the right to sue their health plan in State court. Patients can sue health plans for personal injury or wrongful death resulting from the delivery of

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substandard care or the failure to diagnose and properly treat an illness or disease. Furthermore, the courts have determined that health plans can be held liable for having policies that encourage providers to deliver inadequate medical care.

   You simply cannot sue your way to better health. We believe that patients need to get the care they need when they need it. In the ``Patients' Bill of R ights,'' w e make sure each patient is afforded every opportunity to have the right treatment decision made by health care professionals. And, we make sure that a patient can appeal an adverse decision to an independent medical expert outside the health plan. This approach, Mr. President, puts teeth into ERISA and will assure that patients get the care they need. Prevention, not litigation, is the best medicine.

   As the Health and Education Committee works on health care quality legislation, I will keep in mind three goals. First, to give families the protections they want and need. Second, to ensure that medical decisions are made by physicians in consultation with their patients. And , finally, to keep the cost of this legislation low, so that it displaces no one from getting health care coverage.

   Our goal is to give Americans the protections they want and need in a package that they can afford and that we can enact. This is why I hope the ``Patients' Bill of R ights'' we h ave introduced today will be enacted and signed into law by the President.

   By Mr. HAGEL (for himself, Mr. DODD, Mr. DORGAN, Mr. GRAMS, Mr. HARKIN, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. ROBERTS, and Mr. WARNER):

   S. 327. A bill to e xempt agricultural products, medicines, and medical products from U.S. economic sanctions; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

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