For immediate release
June 14, 2000
CHICAGO – The chair of the American Medical
Association Board of Trustees today called on Trent Lott,
Majority Leader of the Senate, Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader
of the House, and President Clinton to “begin meeting
immediately to negotiate a real patients’ rights bill that can
be signed into law.”
“Over 40 states have passed patient protection legislation
on a bipartisan basis. Why can’t the U.S. Congress do the
right thing?” asked AMA Board Chair D.
Ted Lewers, M.D.
Speaking to 550 physician delegates at its Annual Meeting
in Chicago, Dr. Lewers also called on the only physician
member of the Senate, Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a leader of
the opposition to the legislation, to “re-examine his role in
The AMA supports the Norwood-Dingell patients’ rights
legislation that passed overwhelmingly by 275 votes in the
House last fall. Last week, with Sen. Frist’s encouragement,
the Senate tabled the same measure by 51-48.
“Senator Frist can be the difference in getting a bill
signed into law this year,” Dr. Lewers said. “We are calling
on Senator Frist to throw away the propaganda circulated by
the insurance industry and take immediate action to give
patients the rights that are supported by over 80 percent of
the American public.”
Dr. Lewers also noted that the Norwood-Dingell legislation
is similar to patient protections enacted in Texas. “The sky
did not fall in on Texas,” he said. “If strong patient
protections are good enough for Gov. Bush . . . they should be
good enough for the U.S. Senate.”
With one Senate Democrat absent from last week’s vote, Dr.
Lewers said the AMA is “just one vote away in the Senate from
winning a historic victory for our patients.” Dr. Lewers
praised the 45 Democratic senators and four Republicans who
voted for the measure.
The AMA on Thursday, June 15, will run newspaper ads
thanking the four Republican senators Lincoln Chafee (R –
R.I.), Peter Fitzgerald (R – Ill.), John McCain (R – Ariz.)
and Arlen Specter (R – Penn.).
Dr. Lewers said the AMA is working with local, state and
specialty medical societies in Missouri, Michigan and
Washington State – key states where Republican senators do not
support a meaningful patients’ bill of rights. The AMA and
other physician leaders will meet with the media, local
physicians and patients in those states next week.
For more information, contact:
of News and Information
1-800-759-8352 pin # 1268976)