CLINTON: Steps Up Pressure on Patients’ Rights
President Clinton Saturday used his weekly radio address to criticize the GOP for "piecemeal," insufficient efforts on managed care reform, and to reemphasize his support for a more comprehensive approach (White House briefing on address, 6/12). "[W]e must do more to make sure that when health care plans cut costs they don't cut quality; and that the bottom line never becomes more important than patients' needs," he said. While commending Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) for his promise to hold a vote on the issue, the president said the Republican legislation "[u]nfortunately ... falls far short of providing American families the protections they need in a changing health care system." He disparaged the plan for not ensuring access to specialists, preventing health plans from forcing patients to change doctors mid-treatment, or allowing patients to sue. He also criticized it for only applying to patients in certain plans, leaving "tens of millions of Americans without these guarantees" (transcript of address, 6/12). Clinton touted his own efforts to extend patient protections to those in federally funded plans, and urged the GOP to extend them to patients in all health plans. He demanded that any bill include the right to sue health plans and guaranteed access to specialists. "A patients' bill of rights that doesn't provide these important protections is a patients' bill of rights in name only, and our people deserve better," he said (AP/Newark Star-Ledger, 6/13). The president concluded, "This isn't a partisan issue anywhere else in America, it shouldn't be in Washington, D.C. Let's hold an open, fair debate and pass a real patients' bill of rights that will strengthen our health care system, strengthen our families and strengthen our nation for the 21st century" (transcript, 6/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.