Thursday, June 29, 2000
Ted Lewers, MD
"I speak today on behalf of the patients of America and the
physicians of the American Medical Association who care for
them. The time for the American people is running out. It is
time for the U.S. Senate to do what the American people want
and pass a meaningful patientsí bill of rights.
"Weíve been fighting for six long years to get our patients
the protections they want and need. Whatís wrong with this
picture? It takes four years to go through medical school, but
itís taking Congress more than six years to pass a real
patientsí bill of rights. Time is running out.
"We are proud to stand here today with these elected
leaders who have the courage to fight with us for the
protections our patients want and need. This is our message to
the members of Congress who are not here: The time is long
overdue to put patients first.
"Stop the foot-dragging. Stop the smoke screens. Stop the
posturing. Letís get serious about getting a significant
patientsí rights law this year. Thatís exactly what these
leaders are trying so hard to get done. They are standing up
for our patients because they know that a good bipartisan bill
is possible right now.
"Clearly, the support is there on both sides of the aisle
in both the House and the Senate. The House already
overwhelmingly passed the Norwood-Dingell patientsí rights
bill by 275 votes. In the Senate, we only need one more vote
to pass patientsí rights there as well.
"Earlier this month, in the Senate, we came within a single
vote of moving meaningful patientsí rights legislation
forward. A single vote shy of a majority Ė thatís all it will
take. All itís going to take is one more senator whoís willing
to stand up for patients and stand against the rich, powerful
"Big Insurance is trying to frighten the public and
Congress with a disinformation campaign alleging that this
bill will trigger a flood of lawsuits against employers.
"Thatís a flat-out lie. The bipartisan House bill doesnít
hurt employers, it actually helps employers. In fact, the
House bill forbids lawsuits against employers unless the
employer intervenes to deny care to a sick patient who is
further injured or dies as a result.
"Hereís the critical question: Who do you want in charge of
your health care? Big Insurance, which is more interested in
profits than in patients? Or your own physician who you know
will put patients first?
"The American people have already told us what they want:
More than 80 percent support patientsí rights legislation,
including a patientsí right to sue health plans. But there is
no plausible, responsible reason why a bipartisan bill of
patientsí rights cannot pass Congress and be signed into law
by the President this year.
"Itís doable. Itís doable now. And it should be done.
Patientsí rights are the will of the American people, and the
American Medical Association has the will to persist and
persevere until real patientsí rights are the law of the land.
We are just as serious, just as committed, just as passionate
about patientsí rights as if weíd just begun to fight.
"Now we are issuing a call to action. During this
Congressional recess, we are calling on the American public,
Americaís patients and Americaís physicians to call their
senators and demand they pass a real patientsí bill of rights.
Do the right thing. Pass this legislation now. Time is running