Statement by Judith L. Lichtman, President
Managed care conferees need to pick up the pace.
The conferees self-imposed mid-April deadline is just days away, and they have yet to address two issues critical to managed care reform -- scope and accountability. The National Partnership delivered a package of letters to conference chair Sen. Nickles reminding him that Americans are watching and time is running out. The package contained letters from numerous organizations representing millions of Americans including the Consumers Union, American Public Health Association, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
To do what Americans are demanding, conferees must reject a Senate bill that fails to protect fire fighters, police officers, school teachers, family farmers and ministers because they are not members of the "right" health plans. The Senate bill does not hold health plans accountable. Instead, it allows HMOs to remain above the law, unlike any other industry in America.
The Norwood-Dingell House bill contains the strong patient protections Americans want. The bill insists on independent appeals processes for patients who disagree with a health plan, instead of allowing the plan to rig the outcome. The House bill removes the federal roadblocks that prevent an injured patient from taking legal action against a health plan when it harms them. And, the House bill covers all insured Americans, not just those who have access to the "right" health plans.
The job before the conferees is to send a bill to President Clinton with those strong patient protections intact. And they must do it soon. Americans are counting the days Congress allows them to go without protection and allows health plans to operate without accountability.
The National Partnership for Women & Families (formerly the Women’s 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.
For copies of the letters delivered to Sen. Nickles, please call Kirsten Weeks at 202-986-2600.
National Partnership for Women & Families.