THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON URGES THE CONGRESS TO ACT NOW ON THE NATION'S HEALTH CARE PRIORITIES
Today, in his weekly radio address, President Clinton will urge the Congress to take long overdue action and pass a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights and a voluntary Medicare prescription drug benefit. He will point out, that despite an overwhelming bipartisan vote in support of the Norwood-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights, the legislation has been languishing in the Congress for over six months. He will also reiterate his challenge to the Congress to move beyond rhetoric and pass, in the context of broader reform, a long overdue and voluntary prescription drug benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries. The President will urge the Congress to come back from their recess and get back to work on improving health care for Americans of all generations.
Today, President Clinton will urge the Congress to:
PASS A STRONG, ENFORCEABLE, PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY.
Patients Need Protections Now. Unnecessary delay in passing legislation to curb insurance company abuse results in harm to thousands of patients every day and millions of patients every day. Recently released data shows that each day without a strong Patients' Bill of Rights results in: 14,000 physicians seeing patients harmed because a plan failed to provide coverage for a prescription drug; 10,000 physicians seeing patients harmed because a plan refused a diagnostic test or procedure; and 7,000 physicians seeing patients harmed because their insurance plan refused a referral to a specialist. The President has called on the Congress to pass strong patient protections for more than two years. Despite House passage of the Norwood-Dingell bill, a strong, enforceable, bipartisan Patients' Bill of Rights, Congress has delayed action on this critical legislation for over six months.
The Norwood-Dingell Legislation Is The Only Real Patients' Bill Of Rights. This legislation, endorsed by over 200 health care provider and consumer advocacy groups, is the only proposal currently being considered that meets the Administration's fundamental criteria: that patient protections be real and that court enforced remedies be accessible and meaningful. The legislation includes critical protections such as:
ENSURE THAT A NEW MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT OPTION IS AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE FOR ALL BENEFICIARIES.
Millions Of Medicare Beneficiaries Have No Prescription Drug Coverage. President Clinton put out a detailed proposal to modernize and reform the Medicare program over 9 months ago. Since then, seniors and Americans with disabilities have been waiting for the Congress to act. The President will challenge the Republicans to move swiftly to amend their proposal to ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries have access to an affordable prescription drug benefit option that is:
Republican Policy Does Not Meet Their Stated Goals. Although the House Republican leadership recently recognized the need for an affordable, optional prescription drug benefit available to all Medicare beneficiaries, the President will note that the policy advocated by the House Republicans does not achieve their stated goals. The current House Republican proposal:
REPUBLICAN CONGRESS HAS DELAYED ACTION ON NATIONAL PRIORITIES FOR TOO LONG. So far this year, the House of Representatives has been in session 39 days this year, and the Senate has been in session 33. There are just 73 working days left until the target adjournment date of October 6. The House and Senate struggled to pass the FY2001 budget resolution and the Congress has failed to:
--Fund urgent needs in the President's supplemental request, causing delays that could have devastating effects at home and abroad -- curtailing military training activities essential to peace and stability in Kosovo; eroding international support for Colombia's effort to fight drug traffickers; leaving more than 2,300 families without funds to relocate after their homes were destroyed by Hurricane Floyd; providing debt relief to the poorest nations; and leaving low-income elderly nationwide vulnerable to summer's high temperatures.