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Friday, July 16, 1999 Cheryl Kelly at 202-429-1130

Statement by AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee
on the Senate's Failure to Pass a Real Patients' Bill of Rights

Washington DC -- "Once again America's call to reform health care went unanswered. Regrettably, the majority party in the Senate chose to side with insurance company bureaucrats and against nurses, doctors, consumer groups and every working family in this country by denying them basic patient protections.

"The Senate's vote signaled that it's open season for insurance companies to continue playing doctor and interfering with medical decision-making with no legal accountability. Managed care plans can continue to act as judge and jury for their enrollees who are denied benefits they have been promised. Perhaps the most egregious power that the Senate granted the insurance industry is the right to compromise the quality of care to save money.

"Meanwhile, the crisis of confidence continues in American health care -- while the list of persons victimized by insurance companies grows. Consumers still believe that they cannot count on their health insurance plans and unfortunately they can no longer depend on some of the men and women they elected to protect and defend patient's rights.

"On behalf of the 1.3 million members of AFSCME, I applaud Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Senator Edward Kennedy for their leadership. I also commend all Democrats and the Republicans who joined them in standing up for working families by putting patients before profits."

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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