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Tuesday, March 9, 1999 Cheryl Kelly at 202-429-1130

AFSCME Supports Continued Efforts
to Pass a Patients’ Bill of Rights

Washington, DC -- AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee reiterated his continued support for the Patients’ Bill of Rights legislation, which was reintroduced by House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO), Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), and Representative John J. Dingell (D-MI). The Patients’ Bill of Rights would establish enforceable federal standards for insurance providers and improve the health care of millions of Americans enrolled in managed care plans. AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee, who served on President Clinton’s bipartisan commission to study the issue, had this to say:

“Today, leading Congressional Democrats in the 106th Congress will again address the problems Americans face when seeking medical treatment and we applaud their persistence on behalf of the American people.

“We support this legislation for three key reasons: it will improve the care received by AFSCME members who receive their health care benefits through managed care; and it will address the concerns of some 360,000 AFSCME-represented doctors, nurses and health care professionals who -- thanks to 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 improve health care.

“A Patients’ Bill of Rights would improve the health care that patients receive by establishing universal standards in health care and by giving control of patient care back to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Too many patients have paid insurers for health care coverage, only to find out that their health care provider is unable to refer them for specialized care or that important treatment options have been deemed unnecessary.

“Millions of Americans enrolled in managed care plans have lost faith in our health care system because they have had their treatment options severely limited, been hurried out of hospitals or doctors’ offices, suffered long delays in receiving treatment or been denied medical treatment outright. This action puts insurers on notice that when it comes to making decisions regarding health care, it is patients -- not profits -- who should come first.”

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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