ANA Press Releases

July 16, 1999

Joan Meehan, 202-651-7027
or Michelle Slattery, 202-651-7027

RN=Real News

American Nurses Association Calls Senate Action on Managed Care Reform an Empty Promise

Seriously Flawed Bill Puts Profits Ahead of Patients

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The American Nurses Association (ANA) views the Republican Leadership's Patients' Bill of Rights, which passed the Senate last night with a party-line vote, as a seriously flawed, unenforceable piece of legislation filled with inconsistencies.

The final Senate bill covers only one-third of Americans those covered by plans self-funded by employers leaving 110 million insured people who have state regulated plans or are state or local government employees without protections. ANA believes all Americans should have comprehensive protections from their health plans.

"In a time when health care decisions are made by profit-focused insurance companies instead of patient-focused health care professionals, ANA believes that accountability for the delivery of quality, cost-effective health care services must be shared by health plans, health systems, providers and consumers," said ANA President Beverly L. Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN. "However, under this flawed bill, there are no adequate remedies for people harmed by decisions driven by the bottom-line."

Another major inconsistency in the Republican bill is that it was amended to provide access to clinical trials, but only for cancer patients and only for the 48 million people covered by self-funded plans. No adequate explanation was given on why patients with other diseases, or with other insurance coverage, who could also benefit from access, would have no protection.

A limited, but important victory for nursing, was the addition of language to the Republican bill to prohibit plans from discriminating against health care professionals solely on the basis of type of licensure. This provision also was limited to self-funded plans. However, Republicans refused to pass an important provision to protect nurses who advocate for their patients from retaliation, an issue that ANA has backed in the strongest terms.

"Nurses at the bedside see the need for patient protection and patient advocacy played out every day. They know exactly what happens when care is denied, comes too late, or is so inadequate that it leads to inexcusable suffering," said Malone.

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The American Nurses Association is the only full-service professional organization representing the nation's Registered Nurses through its 53 constituent associations. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.

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