Press Release

April 9, 1999

Adrienne Hahn,
Consumers Union's Washington, DC Office



Consumers Union Urges Congress to

Pass the Patients' Bill of Rights Act, S.6 and H.R. 358


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 care.

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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