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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 15, 1999


Tonight's party line vote for a weak, unenforceable patients' bill of rights is the wrong course for America. The Republican Leadership's bill is a patients' bill of rights in name only.

It fails to protect more than 110 million Americans -- including the vast majority of Americans in HMOs. For those it does cover, this bill fails to ensure patients' access to the specialists they need; fails to ensure patients the right to keep their doctors throughout a course a treatment; fails to prevent insurance company accountants from making final calls on medical decisions; and it fails to hold health plans accountable for actions that harm their patients.

If Congress insists on passing such an empty promise to the American people, I will not sign the bill. Passing a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights should not be a partisan issue. This should be about protecting patients, not insurance companies.

We will not stop working on this critical issue until we provide patients the protections they need. The American people know the difference between a good and bad bill. Every major doctors', nurses', and patients' organization in the country knows the difference. I believe that the will of the people will still prevail in this Congress.