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May 28, 1998

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This bill says, how can you let some person with the mentality of an accountant, who will only see the number of what it costs to have somebody do her surgery, who will only see the number at the bottom line of what the chemotherapy costs, make a decision. We're not that kind of people; we're not that kind of society.

- President Bill Clinton
May 28, 1998

Today, President Clinton is joined by Vice President Gore, Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, and Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, in calling on Congress to pass a Patients' Bill of Rights, legislation which offers certain protections to all Americans when they become ill. The President will also release a report showing the impact of health care issues on women, and why a Patients' Bill of Rights is necessary to protect all Americans.

Patients' Bill of Rights. The nation's health care system is undergoing significant change. Many Americans worry that these changes may reduce their health care options and lower the standards of care. The President has already signed an executive order requiring that all federal agencies substantially comply with the Patients' Bill of Rights. Now, these protections must be extended to all Americans. A Patients' Bill of Rights would give Americans much needed protections, including:

  • Access to health care specialists to ensure patients receive the appropriate care they need;
  • Access to emergency services when and where the need arises;
  • Access to easily understood information to help patients make informed decisions;
  • Grievance and appeals processes for consumers to resolve their differences with their health plans and health care providers.

A Patients' Bill Of Rights Helps Ensure Women Get Access To the Services They Need. Women are particularly affected by health care issues. A new study shows that:

  • Over 60 percent of physician visits are made by women, and women make three quarters of the health care decisions in American households. Without adequate patient protections, women will be unable to effectively navigate through the nation's rapidly changing health care system.
  • Women in managed care plans are increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of care. Nearly 70 percent of privately insured women ages 18 to 65 are in managed care plans. Almost two-fifths of these women worry that they will not be able to get speciality care when they need it. And 27 percent of these women worry that they will be denied a medical procedure they need.
  • Without a patients' bill of rights, women may not receive important preventive services. The consumer protection that gives women direct access to an obstetrician/gynecologist is not only necessary to make sure that pregnant women get the care they need, but is also important to ensure that women get important preventive services. Studies show that gynecologists are almost two times as likely as internists to perform timely, needed women's preventive services.
  • Patients' Bill of Rights legislation must be passed. The only way to assure that all women, and all Americans, have the patient protections they need is to pass and enact a Federally-enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights.

State Laws Cannot Protect All Citizens. The President congratulates the 44 states who have passed at least one element of the Patients' Bill of Rights. However, over 122 million Americans are enrolled in health care plans which are not fully governed by state law, and therefore do not enjoy the full protection that these laws are intended to give.

Challenging Congress To Pass A Federally-Enforceable Patients' Bill Of Rights This Year. The President renews his call to Congress to pass a Patients' Bill of Rights this year. Without this legislation, the millions of Americans in private health plans will never be assured these basic protections.

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