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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 12, 1999

                             June 12, 1999

Today, President Clinton will urge Congress to pass a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights this summer. The Clinton Administration has a long history of supporting patients' rights, and has taken strong steps to provide critical patient protections, such as the right to see a specialist, to receive emergency room care whenever and wherever necessary, and to hold health plans accountable for harmful decisions. Today, the President will:

Commend the Republicans for Progress but Urge Them To Allow a Full Debate to Ensure Strong Legislation. The President will praise the Republican leadership for acknowledging that poor quality managed care is a serious problem that needs to be addressed and praise Senate Majority Leader Lott's decision to bring managed care reform legislation to a vote on the Senate floor early this summer. President Clinton will also compliment the many Republicans who have agreed to work with Democrats on behalf of a strong bill. At the same time, however, he will urge the Republican Leadership to hold a full and fair debate to ensure that Congress passes a strong, enforceable patients' bill of rights.

Urge the Congress to Pass Patients' Rights Legislation That Will Give Patients the Protections They Need. More than a year and a half ago, the President accepted the recommendations of a non-partisan Quality Commission and urged Congress to pass a Patients' Bill of Rights to ensure that every health plan provides strong patient protections. His call to Congress to support a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights was echoed by nearly every doctors' association, every nurses' association, and every patients' rights group in America. Today, the President again urged Congress to pass a bill in this legislative session that includes critical protections such as:

Criticize Piecemeal Approach Offered by the Republican Leadership. The President will also note that the Republican leadership bills fall far short of providing American families with the protections they need in a changing health care system. The various Senate and House Republican leadership proposals, including the bill introduced this week by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, will leave tens of millions of Americans without basic protections. The failure of these bills include:

Highlight the Clinton Administration's Strong Record on Patients' Rights. The Clinton Administration has a long history of promoting patients' rights, and President Clinton already has used his authority to make many of these rights real for the 85 million Americans who get their health care through federal plans -- from Medicare and Medicaid to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan to the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration. The Administration's record on patients' rights includes: