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May/June 2000

AFSCME Members Support Patients’ Bill of Rights at White House Event


Four Maryland elementary-school nurses, members of AFSCME Local 2250, became part of the national debate over the Patients’ Bill of Rights when they at-tended a White House event on March 2.

President Clinton used the occasion to urge Congress to pass an acceptable version of the patients’ legislation.

The Prince George’s County school nurses were Barbara Brown, Laura Lighter-Barrows, LeNese Cauley and Elizabeth Hairston. Local 2250 Pres. John Wyne also attended.

“It was very exciting meeting the president,” Hairston said later. “But our biggest concern was [passing] the Patients’ Bill of Rights.” Because she and her colleagues believe the professional opinions of physicians should prevail over profit-driven decisions made by HMOs and insurance companies, “We wanted to be there to back [the President] up.”

The House and Senate passed different versions of the patients’ bill, and congressional negotiators were working out their differences. Senate GOP leaders want the final bill to encompass only a narrow range of Americans — one-third of those covered by insurance plans. Democratic leaders and Clinton, however, are adamant that protections be extended to all Americans.