Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 3, 2000


Today, President Clinton will urge Congressional conferees to act in a bipartisan fashion and deliver a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights. He will underscore his belief that the Norwood-Dingell bill is a strong basis for final legislation and should not be watered down. Joined by bipartisan members of Congress, including Representatives Norwood, Dingell, Ganske and Berry, as well as Senators Specter, Kennedy, Chafee and Graham, the President will urge Congress to act now to pass a strong patients' bill of rights that provides protections for all Americans in health plans and holds health plans accountable for decisions that harm patients.

THE NORWOOD-DINGELL LEGISLATION IS THE ONLY REAL PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS. The Norwood-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights, which is endorsed by over 200 health care providers and consumer advocacy groups, and is the only bipartisan proposal currently being considered that includes:

THE SENATE BILL IS A PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS IN NAME ONLY AND PROVIDES FEW REAL PROTECTIONS. The President will underscore his belief that the bill passed by the Senate is a Patients Bill of Rights in name only. It would:

PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL NOT SIGN A PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS THAT REPRESENTS AN EMPTY PROMISE. Today, President Clinton will reiterate his refusal to enact legislation that does not provide strong patient protection for all Americans in health plans and include meaningful enforcement mechanisms. To date, there is no legislation other than the Norwood-Dingell bill that meets the Administration's fundamental criteria: that patient protections be real and that court enforced remedies be accessible and meaningful.

PRESIDENT CLINTON UNDERSCORES HIS OPTIMISM THAT A STRONG PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS WILL BE ENACTED THIS YEAR. Today, President Clinton will underscore his optimism that a strong Patients' Bill of Rights will be enacted this year. Citing the Norwood-Dingell legislation, the President will highlight his belief that the momentum for this legislation is undeniable. He believes that the Congress will respond to the will of the public and pass a strong enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights this year.

CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION'S LONGSTANDING COMMITMENT TO PROMOTING PATIENTS' RIGHTS. The Administration has a long history of promoting patients' rights, and President Clinton has already extended many of these protections through executive action to the 85 million Americans who get their health care through federal plans -- from Medicare and Medicaid, to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP), to the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration. The Administration's record on patients' rights include:

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