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Tuesday, May 2, 2000

Kirsten Weeks, 202/986-2600

Patients' Rights Coalition Leader Calls on Senator Nickles to Follow the Lead of His Own State

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

Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK) is so caught up in politics on Capitol Hill that heís lost touch with the voters who put him there in the first place. Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating recently signed a bill allowing citizens of his state to hold health plans accountable if they harm a patient. This common-sense legislation is a response to an urgent demand from the people of Oklahoma for strong patient protections -- the same kind of protections being stalled in Washington, DC by Oklahomaís own Sen. Nickles.

Sen. Nickles leads the Congressional conference committee charged with sending a strong patientsí rights bill to President Clinton. After 9 weeks of meetings, the conference committee hasnít even addressed the issue of holding health plans accountable when they harm a patient.

Oklahoma isnít the only state trying to do what Congress wonít. Texas, Georgia, California, Arizona and Washington have passed accountability legislation because itís what their citizens demanded. But, even with state laws in place, federal accountability is needed to provide protection for people in all health plans. Without corresponding changes in federal law, approximately 130 million people nationwide will be left without this essential right and remedy.

We need Congress to do its job, and to listen to the American people. Conference committee members should get moving and send a strong, enforceable patient protection bill to the President now.


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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