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Friday, March 24, 2000

Kirsten Weeks, 202/986-2600

DLC Poll Misses the Mark on Americaís View of Managed Care

Statement by Judith L. Lichtman, President
National Partnership for Women & Families

The Democratic Leadership Council yesterday announced new data that implies Americans are generally satisfied with their current health care coverage and not interested in managed care reform. But, the DLC poll fails to ask critical questions about Americaís real health care dilemma, and consequently, misses the mark on Americaís views on managed care.

The Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University School of Public Health released a survey in February that indicates the concerns Americans have about the quality of their health care have not gone away. An overwhelming 74 percent of respondents say managed care is not improving -- 40 percent of those think itís getting worse. More than half of all Americans say they or someone they know have personally experienced problems addressed in patientsí rights legislation:

  • 30 percent report problems getting a health plan to pay for an emergency room visit

  • 26 percent report problems getting permission to see a specialist

  • 22 percent have wanted, but were unable, to file an appeal to an independent reviewer for a denied claim

  • 15 percent have had difficulty getting permission from a health plan or regular doctor to see a gynecologist

Kaiserís findings underscore the urgent need for strong patientsí rights legislation. The same study finds that 3 out of 4 Americans support congressional action to put consumer protections in place, support that has remained strong and stable over the last few years. And, 66 percent of Americans say patient protections should include the right to sue a health plan.

Americans deserve quality health care and thatís what our fight for strong patientsí rights legislation is about -- better quality care. Itís about better access to specialists, a fair external appeals process, and holding HMOs accountable when they wrongfully harm a patient -- common-sense managed care reform the American people want. Americans across demographic lines see better patient protections as a necessity, not a political football.


Securing health insurance for more Americans, especially low-income people, is an extremely important issue and we encourage meaningful dialogue about how to expand coverage. However, the so-called "access" provisions backed by the House leadership and inserted into patientsí rights legislation are not the answer. In fact, these proposals would do very little to increase access to insurance, and some have the potential for causing significant harm by increasing the cost of insurance for millions of American families.

Swift enactment of strong patient protection legislation is critically important. We urge the conferees to keep their focus on patientsí rights. Letís get this done.


The National Partnership for Women & Families (formerly the Womenís Legal Defense Fund) is leading a coalition of patient and provider groups that support strong, enforceable patient protections. The National Partnership is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes fairness in the workplace, quality health care, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.

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