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April 9, 1999

Margaret Prinzavalli Sotham, 202/986-2600

Statement by Judith L. Lichtman, President
National Partnership for Women & Families at the
Patients' Bill of Rights Press Conference

April 9, 1999, The Capitol

Good morning. My name is Judith Lichtman, and I am president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. I am pleased to be here as the leader of more than 180 organizations supporting REAL patient protections. These extraordinary organizations represent literally millions of Americans who want meaningful patient protections -- protections every woman, man, and child in this country deserve.

In the media, at the office water cooler, and around kitchen tables all across America, people are talking about the quality of their health care. Few realities are more frightening than the thought of a health plan failing our children, our parents, our spouses, us. It happens every day in this country, yet too many patients still lack the most basic protections.

The Internet petition drive launched here today gives everyone who cares about health care the chance to let Congress know they will not accept phony substitutes in place of real reform. Patients DO NOT want insurance companies arbitrarily overruling their doctorís medical judgment about how long to stay in the hospital. They DO NOT want insurance companies punishing doctors and nurses who report quality problems. Patients DO want to see an outside specialist when their plan canít meet their needs. They DO want to hold managed care plans accountable through truly independent reviews and, if that fails, legal remedies.

The health care and insurance industry would have you believe these basic protections are too costly. They say these basic quality standards would so threaten industry profits that fewer people would have health care. Well I say to all of you, the choice between poor quality health care and no health care is no choice at all.

Itís time for every member of Congress to act with courage and put patients before profits. Protecting patients isnít brain surgery; itís just plain common sense. Members of Congress who vote against real patient protections might well want to have their heads examined.


The National Partnership for Women & Families (formerly the Womenís Legal Defense Fund) is one of more than 180 leading consumer, provider, labor, and disabilities groups that support the Patientsí Bill of Rights Act. 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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National Partnership for Women & Families.