Date: Friday, July 24, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: HHS Press Office (202) 690-6343
Statement by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala
on H.R. 4250, The House Republican Leadership's
"Patient Protection Act of 1998"
"I'm extremely disappointed in the bill passed by the House of Representatives. While it may protect HMO profits, it certainly won't protect patients' rights.
"Americans need a Patients' Bill of Rights that delivers real reforms. The bill passed by the House simply gives lip service to those reforms, without really accomplishing them. I was especially disappointed by news reports indicating that some Members of Congress see this merely as a political issue. This isn't about protecting Members' seats in Congress. This is about protecting people's lives.
"The House bill leaves millions of Americans in the individual insurance market out in the cold, offering them no protections at all.
"And it does not guarantee the rights that should belong to every American - the right to see a specialist when you need one, without going through a gatekeeper; the right to emergency care when good judgment and common sense require it; or the right to stay with the same doctor throughout the course of a serious or chronic illness.
"It sets up an appeals process that has no teeth, and leaves crucial decisions about health care in the hands of HMO bureaucrats, instead of doctors and their patients. It leaves patients and their families with no right to just compensation when injury or death result from a health care plan's wrongful action."
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