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Patients' Bill of Rights must be passed, says American Cancer Society

Unice B. Lieberman
Director, Advocacy Communications
American Cancer Society

Washington - April 09, 1999 - The American Cancer Society is urgently pressing members of Congress to move forward on managed care reform legislation which supports the needs of those dealing with cancer. The Patients' Bill of Rights, also known as S. 6 and H.R. 358, is foremost among several managed care reform bills which ACS supports.

"With more than 85 percent of insured Americans enrolled in some form of managed care arrangement, the time has come for federal action to limit one-size-fits-all medical practices which try to merely adhere to cost savings -- especially in cases of catastrophic illness. The Patients' Bill of Rights does the right thing by cancer patients and those potentially affected by cancer," said Francis Coolidge, ACS National Board of Directors Chair. "Congress must move S. 6 and H.R. 358 forward. This legislation will support and protect patients in a manner that only federal law can, and help stop health care access and quality problems caused by bottom-line medicine."

The Society is pushing for legislation which:

  • Ensures access to clinical trials for innovative cancer treatments
  • Increases access to specialists for people with cancer
  • Provides quick, strong and enforceable grievance and appeal procedures
  • Supplies easy to understand health plan policy information
Currently, U.S. Senate leadership has under consideration S. 326, which is "truly not a reform of managed care. It has too many loopholes and falls far too short of providing the protections the American Cancer Society supports in a managed care package," Coolidge added. The U.S. House of Representatives has not yet begun to move forward on managed care reform.

"S. 6 and H.R. 358 will make it simpler for everyone -- not just those affected by cancer -- to maneuver safely through the health care system. It is critical Congress stop wasting time. Cancer patients deserve to know they won't be denied treatment which could save their lives simply because a health plan administrator not licensed to practice medicine says a particular treatment is not necessary or appropriate. We urge both the Senate and the House to take up a responsible and comprehensive approach to managed care reform, and move the Patients' Bill of Rights forward," Coolidge said.

Copyright 2000 American Cancer Society, Inc.