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Inaugural address
2001 Annual Meeting
Farewell address
2001 Annual Meeting
Finance presentation
2001 Annual Meeting
Remarks of the executive vice president
2001 Annual Meeting
"Taking on our share of the global health burden: Opportunities for the physicians of America"
2001 Annual Meeting
Panel remarks Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
2001 Board of Commissioners Retreat
AMA update: A prescription for hope and health
Medical Society of the State of New York
Putting the "care" back in Medicare -- and managed care
North Shore / Long Island Jewish Health System
"Media and violence: Where does the buck stop?"
21st Annual Medical Communications and Health Reporting Conference
The role of organized medicine and the future health of Hispanic families
National Hispanic Medical Association

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Remarks at patientsí bill of rights press conference
Washington D.C. media

Thursday, June 29, 2000

D. Ted Lewers, MD
Chair
American Medical Association


"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 insurance lobby.

"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 out. "

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Last updated: Aug 02, 2000

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