April 9, 1999
Washington - The following is a statement from Adrienne Hahn, legislative
counsel at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports:
Consumers Union urges Congress to pass the Patients' Bill of Rights Act, S.6
and H.R. 358 so that all managed care enrollees receive quality care. Americans
from across the country have made it clear that they want to see Congress pass
meaningful and comprehensive patient protection legislation as embodied in the
Patients' Bill of Rights Act.
Specifically, consumers are clamoring for patient protections that ensure
managed care plans will be held accountable in court for egregious actions that
result in injury or death. The ability of a consumer to hold a managed care plan
accountable for sub-standard health care that results in injury is essential.
Compensation to injured consumers acts as an important counter-balance to
financial incentives to increase profits through undertreatment of patients. In
fact, the effectiveness of other reforms would be seriously diluted if managed
care remains immunized from responsibility for delivery of sub-standard
Americans need access to a neutral appeals process, if care is denied. Today,
many consumers are trapped within their health plan, which is totally in control
of treatment decisions. The result: consumers risk not getting the medical care
they need when bottom-line considerations, not medical appropriateness, have
undue influence on decision-making. A truly independent external appeals process
acts as a safety valve to ensure that consumers receive the appropriate care
when a plan wrongly denies care.
Passage of meaningful managed care reform legislation however does not mean
attaching anti-consumer measures such as Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) that
increase health care cost. Instead, the time is ripe for Congress to act and
pass the real Patients' Bill of Rights Act, S.6 and H.R. 358.
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