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TO: Reporters, Columnists and Editors
FROM: Judith L. Lichtman, President
DATE: August 1, 2000
RE: Managed Care Reform Legislation

Members of the 106th Congress left Capitol Hill last week for a Congressional recess. When they return, both chambers will have about four weeks to move a backlog of legislation off the House and Senate floors and into the hands of President Clinton. The House-passed Norwood-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights should be at the top of their list.

Passing strong patient protections, like those in the Norwood-Dingell bill, is particularly important to women and their families. As the primary consumers of health services, women have the most at stake in this debate. Our own research shows that women believe money, rather than care, is driving the insurance industry.

Norwood-Dingell will provide urgently needed protections to patients in Michigan. The bill will prohibit health plans from:

  • Charging patients extra for going to the nearest emergency room when an emergency strikes;

  • Making treatment decisions based on financial, not medical, concerns; and

  • Blocking patient access to needed specialists.

The Norwood-Dingell bill is the only managed care reform legislation that protects all privately insured families. It creates a fair and binding appeals process that puts independent medical experts in charge, and holds health plans legally accountable when they harm a patient. The Senate alternative to Norwood-Dingell leaves out millions of Americans, including fire fighters, teachers and church employees. It stacks the deck against patients when they appeal a denied claim and fails to hold health plans accountable the way we do every other industry in America.

This critical legislation is only one vote away from passing the Senate. Senator Spence Abraham stands in the way. He voted against Norwood-Dingell on June 8th, and voted instead for a bill put together by Senator Don Nickles, a bill designed to appease the insurance industry, not protect patients. The attached chart clearly illustrates the inadequacies of the Nickles bill compared to the strong protections provided by Norwood-Dingell.

Sen. Abraham will get another chance to show the people of this state and the rest of America whether he stands with patients, or stands behind the insurance industry. He should vote yes on Norwood-Dingell and put an end to the struggle for real managed care reform.


Copyright 1998,
National Partnership for Women & Families.