HEALTH CARE POLITICS: Clinton Talks Patients’ Rights
President Clinton yesterday touted patients' rights legislation and a number of other proposals "[i]n his first public appearance since admitting an extramarital relationship." Speaking at a school safety/juvenile crime rally in Worcester, MA, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Clinton "launched into a sometimes rambling rundown of his record and his agency, repeating his earlier call for" a list of initiatives that included "his proposal for a patients' bill of rights" (Thomma, 8/28). On health care, Clinton said: "We have a huge health care agenda, and it begins with the patients' bill of rights. With 160 million people in managed care operations, people ought to have a right, whatever their health care plan, to see a specialist if their doctor recommends it; to have emergency room care where it's needed if they have an accident; to have their medical records kept private; to be able to appeal adverse decisions. These things are important" (transcript, 8/27).
GOP Pushes Tax Cut
The AP/Houston Chronicle reports that House Republicans are planning to bring up a $78 billion tax cut bill "for an election-year push in the final weeks of the 105th Congress." The bill includes one health care provision -- allowing the "self-employed and employees who must pay their own health insurance to fully deduct the premiums." The overall tax cut bill is still being drafted, but House Ways and Means Committee Chair Bill Archer (R-TX) "plans to present a final version when lawmakers return from their summer recess" (Anderson, 8/28).
Rocky Mountain Front
Managed care reform is becoming an issue in the race between incumbent Colorado Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) and Democratic challenger Dottie Lamm. Lamm supports the patients' rights bill backed by President Clinton "that would give patients the right to sue any HMO that denies them medical care they or their physicians might believe they need." Campbell, however, supports an alternate proposal "that would require disputes first be referred to private mediators." Explaining her position, Lamm said, "I think as we move into a new era of health care, we've got to protect people as we move, and that's what I believe this patients' bill of rights does." Campbell accused his opponent of "simply embracing an old, and discarded national health care plan sought by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton" (AP/Colorado Springs Gazette, 8/28).