THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
The Federal Employees Health Care Protection Act of 1998, H.R. 1836, that I have signed into law makes several critical improvements to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). For example, it gives the Office of Personnel Management's Inspector General critical new debarment authority to crack down on fraudulent providers and, when necessary, to debar those who defraud the program; it contains essential new provisions to maintain and improve consumer choice, the hallmark of FEHBP, by allowing fee-for-service plans to rejoin FEHBP; it makes health care more affordable for certain Federal employees and retirees of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve Board by allowing them to participate in the FEHBP; and finally, it ensures that certain Federal physicians who provide high quality services will receive appropriate compensation for their services, which is critical to attracting and maintaining a high quality Federal physician work force.
I want to note, however, my objection to a provision in this legislation that appears to expand preemption of State law remedies for FEHBP enrollees who are injured as a result of wrongful benefit delay or denial by their plan. As I have consistently stated, I believe that a right without remedy is not a right at all. I strongly believe that Federal employees should have the right to legally enforceable remedies, including under State law, to protect them when health plans do not provide contractually obligated patient protections. I therefore want to clarify that my enactment of this legislation should in no way be construed to indicate my support for this preemption provision. I also would like to reiterate my disappointment that the Congress has adjourned without passing a Patients' Bill of Rights that would give new protections and remedies to all Americans, including Federal employees. Assuring that health plans provide needed patient protections and adequate remedies will be one of my top priorities for the next Congress.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE, October 23, 1998.