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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release October 7, 1999


The House today put families and patients ahead of special interest by ensuring that patients will get the protections they need. The Norwood-Dingell Bill passed by the House of Representatives this afternoon offers enforceable, meaningful patient protections that will work for working families in all health plans.

While today's vote was a major victory for families and patients -- and proof that America is capable of passing a strong and enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights -- there is still a great deal of work to be done. Patients and families must come first -- something that must remain a priority as this Bill proceeds. We must ensure that doctors, and not bureaucrats, are the decision makers in patient care.

Republican Leaders should not load the Patients' Bill of Rights up with poison pill provisions or weaken its strong protections that threaten the bipartisan support it has already achieved. I also join with the President in urging that the costs be fully offset by the conference committee.

I commend the overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House that brought this bill to passage under the leadership of John Dingell and Charlie Norwood. I am hopeful that a strong and enforceable bill can emerge from the Congress this year if members of both parties continue to responsibly place the interests of America's working families above all else.