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Friday April 9, 1999 Cheryl Kelly at 202-429-1130

AFSCME President Applauds Congressional Leaders
for their Support of Patients’ Bill of Rights

Washington, D.C. -- Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, (AFSCME) the nation’s largest public employee and health care workers union, applauded efforts by Congressional leaders who today will be participating in events throughout the country aimed at highlighting the need for consumer protections in managed care.

“Today, Congressional leaders in over 26 states will be advocating on behalf of a Patients’ Bill of Rights. The need for such legislation is more important now than ever before as we face a crisis of confidence in health care. Consumers feel they can no longer count on their insurance plans to provide the care they need; patient choices are being restricted and insurance company bureaucrats are interfering in the doctor-patient relationship.

“AFSCME strongly supports the Kennedy/Dingell bills, S. 6 and H.R. 358, because they are comprehensive packages of patients’ rights. They hold insurance companies and HMOs accountable when they deny care which injures patients. The Republican leadership bills would continue to allow insurers to reverse decisions made by physicians.

“The Patients’ Bill of Rights will improve health care for all Americans who receive benefits through managed care; and it will address the concerns of some 360,000 AFSCME-represented doctors, nurses and health care workers who -- because of sweeping changes in the health care industry -- are increasingly frustrated in their efforts to provide quality health care to their patients. This legislation would also protect medical professionals from wrongful termination, retaliation or discrimination resulting from their efforts to blow the whistle on practices that jeopardize patient care.

“Too many patients have purchased health care coverage only to discover that their health care provider will not refer them to specialized care and/or may deny important treatment options. A comprehensive Patients’ Bill of Rights would improve the health care that patients receive by establishing universal standards in health care and giving control of patient care back to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. This legislation would guarantee that insurance companies and HMOs make treatment decisions according to the standards of good medicine, not according to cost.”

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American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO

1625 L Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036-5687
Telephone (202) 429-1130
Fax (202) 429-1120