March 15, 1999
The National Partnership for Women & Families is devoted to improving the lives of women and families. A key priority for the National Partnership is to ensure that women enrolled in health insurance plans, particularly managed care plans, receive the highest quality care. We understand that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is planning to mark up S. 326, the Senate leadership's version of the Patients' Bill of Rights Act, on March 17th. In its current form, this bill fails to provide essential patient protections for women and families.
First, S. 326 covers only a fraction of the people in this country with employment-based coverage and excludes more than 100 million Americans. Because most of its provisions apply only to the 48 million people in self-insured plans, this bill fails to provide basic protections to millions of Americans and exacerbates the ineffective patchwork system of protections already in place.
In addition to failing to protect millions of Americans, S. 326 is deficient in other ways. For example, S. 326:
S. 326 fails to provide urgently needed common sense patient protections to women and families. We urge you to oppose S. 326 and to support the real Patients' Bill of Rights -- S. 6 -- during the mark up.
Judith L. Lichtman
National Partnership for Women & Families.