THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON RELEASES NEW REPORT AND URGES CONGRESS TO PASS PATIENT BILL OF RIGHTS, COMPREHENSIVE TOBACCO LEGISLATION, AND THE MEDICARE BUY-IN PROPOSAL March 9, 1998
In a speech to the American Medical Association (AMA) today, the President renewed his call to Congress to pass 1) a patients' bill of rights; 2) comprehensive tobacco legislation to reduce teen smoking; and 3) his proposal to allow hundreds of thousands of Americans ages 55 to 65 to buy into Medicare. In his speech, which marks the first time a President has spoken to the AMA in fifteen years, President Clinton highlighted the fact that he and the AMA are united on the need for a patients' bill of rights and tobacco legislation, and he urged the AMA to lend its strong support to his Medicare buy-in proposal. Underscoring the bipartisan support for a patients' bill of rights, the President released a report showing that 44 states -- including 28 states with Republican Governors -- have enacted the "Consumer Bill of Rights" that the President's Quality Commission recommended, and the President endorsed last year. In his speech, the President:
RELEASED NEW REPORT SHOWING THAT 44 STATES -- INCLUDING 28 STATES WITH REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS -- HAVE ENACTED AT LEAST ONE OF THE PROVISIONS IN THE PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS. The President released a new report that underscores the bipartisan support for the patients' bill of rights he endorsed last year. Highlights from this report are as follows:
Forty-four states have enacted at least one of protections in the patients' bill of rights.
Patient protection laws have been enacted by Democratic and Republican Governors alike. Twenty-eight of the 32 states with Republican Governors have enacted at least one of these protections.
Each of these patient protections has been enacted in at least eight states around the country and some have been enacted in as many as forty-one states. For example:
(See Attached Fact Sheet for Details
on Report on State Patient Protections)
URGED CONGRESS TO PASS FEDERAL LEGISLATION BECAUSE, DESPITE STATE LAWS, STATES HAVE NO JURISDICTION OVER MORE THAN 100 MILLION AMERICANS. A patchwork of non-comprehensive state laws cannot provide Americans with the protections they need -- especially because state laws do not have jurisdiction over more than 100 million Americans. For example, they do not cover tens of millions of Americans in self-insured plans covered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The only way to ensure that all health plans serving all Americans provide the protections envisioned by the Quality Commission is to pass and enact bipartisan Federal legislation.
CALLED ON CONGRESS TO PASS COMPREHENSIVE TOBACCO LEGISLATION THIS YEAR. The President today also reiterated his call for Congress to pass comprehensive tobacco legislation this year that includes his five key principles:
A comprehensive plan to reduce youth smoking, including: significant price increases; tough penalties on tobacco firms that continue to market to youths; public education and counter advertising; and expanded efforts to restrict access and limit appeal.
Full authority of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products.
Changes in how the tobacco industry does business, including an end to marketing and promotion to children and broad document disclosure.
Progress towards other public goals, including a reduction of second hand smoke; promotion of cessation programs; public health research; and the strengthening of international efforts to control tobacco.
Protection for tobacco farmers and their communities.
REITERATED THAT THIS TOBACCO PROPOSAL COULD PREVENT UP TO ONE MILLION PREMATURE DEATHS OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS. The recent Treasury Department study, based on conservative estimates from well-respected analytical models, concluded that the Administration's proposal to increase the price of cigarettes by $1.50 per pack -- coupled with proposed sales and advertising restrictions -- would:
Keep up to 1.9 million American youths from smoking in 2003 -- a 39 to 46 percent reduction in youth smoking. Over the next five years, the cumulative number of young people kept from smoking would be up to 2.8 million.
Spare as many as 1 million of today's young people from premature deaths resulting from smoking-related diseases over the next five years.
URGED CONGRESS TO ACT NOW TO PASS HIS TARGETED PROPOSAL TO GIVE AMERICANS AGES 55 TO 65 ACCESS TO HEALTH INSURANCE.
Americans ages 55 to 65 are among the most difficult populations to insure: they have less access to and a greater risk of losing employer-based health insurance; and they are twice as likely to have health problems.
The President has a carefully-targeted, fiscally-responsible proposal that would allow hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Americans to gain access to more affordable health care coverage by: allowing Americans ages 62 to 65 to buy into the Medicare program; allowing displaced workers age 55 and over a similar buy-in option; and allowing Americans age 55 and over who have lost their retiree health benefits to buy into their former employers' health plan.
The Congressional Budget Office just confirmed that this proposal would help hundreds of thousands of Americans without burdening the Medicare Trust Fund or the budget.
PRESIDENT CLINTON RELEASES WHITE HOUSE REPORT REVEALING THAT STATES HAVE ENACTED EACH OF THE PATIENT PROTECTIONS HE HAS ENDORSED -- INCLUDING MANY STATES WITH REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS March 9, 1998
Thirty-four states -- including 21 states with Republican Governors -- have enacted information disclosure provisions. At least 34 states have enacted provisions that require health plans to disclose information to help consumers make informed decisions about their health plans, health professionals, and health facilities.
Ten states have enacted provider network adequacy provisions -- including four states with Republican Governors. At least ten states have enacted provisions to help ensure that health plan networks provide access to sufficient numbers and types of providers without unreasonable delay.
Thirty states -- including 15 states with Republican Governors -- have enacted protections to give direct access to certain specialists, including qualified specialists for women's health services. At least 30 states have enacted provisions to give patients greater access to needed specialists, including giving women greater access to qualified specialists for women's health services.
Seventeen states have enacted continuity of care protections -- including ten states with Republican Governors. At least 17 states have enacted protections to help ensure continuity of care for enrollees who are involuntarily forced to change providers.
Twenty-eight states have enacted protections to ensure access to emergency room services -- including 16 states with Republican Governors. At least 28 states have enacted legislation to help ensure that patients have access to emergency room services when and where the need arises. These provisions require health plans to pay for the initial screening examination and stabilization care -- regardless of whether the emergency room is in the plan's network -- when an enrolled person needs emergency services. Twenty of these states require the use of a "prudent layperson standard" to determine whether an emergency exists, to ensure that any person who reasonably thought they were having an emergency is covered by their health plan.
Forty-one states have enacted anti-gag clauses -- including 26 states with Republican Governors. At least 41 states have enacted "anti-gag" clauses prohibiting health plans from using contract clauses that restrict providers' communications with their patients.
Eighteen states have enacted provisions that require health plans to disclose financial incentives -- including 12 states with Republican Governors. At least 18 states have passed protections requiring health plans to disclose any financial arrangements with their physicians.
Nineteen states have enacted provisions to protect confidentiality of health information -- including ten states with Republican Governors. At least 19 states have enacted some type of provision to help protect the confidentiality of health information for health plan enrollees.
Eight states have enacted anti-discrimination provisions, including six states with Republican Governors.
Twelve states now require that health plan enrollees have access to an external appeal process, including eight states with Republican Governors. At least 12 states now require that health plan enrollees have access to specially designated and independent external appeals entities, which are funded and empowered to hear and act upon such appeals.
Last November, the President endorsed the "Consumer Bill of Rights" recommended by his Advisory Commission on Quality and Consumer Protection. These rights included: information disclosure; a choice of providers including provider network adequacy provisions, access to specialists (including qualified specialists for women's health services), and transitional care provisions; access to emergency room services; participation in treatment decisions including prohibiting anti-gag clauses and requiring disclosure of financial incentives; protection of the confidentiality of health information; anti-discrimination provisions; and access to an appeals process.