THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Friday, April 9, 1999
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE:
A "REAL" PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS FOR ALL AMERICANS
With this petition, the American people call upon the leadership of Congress to provide protections our citizens clearly need and deserve. Today, we call on Congress to heed the will of the people and pass a real Patients' Bill of Rights.
President Bill Clinton
April 9, 1999
Today, President Clinton traveled to Philadelphia for an event with Congressional members to launch a nationwide petition drive in support of a strong Patients' Bill of Rights. More than 90 members of Congress hosted events in 32 states. The President announced that the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) is advising all 285 private insurance plans that they must come into full compliance with the President's Quality Commission's Patients' Bill of Rights.
Federal Health Benefits Plans Are Taking The Final Steps Necessary To Come Into Compliance With The Patients' Bill of Rights. The President announced that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which oversees FEHBP and serves nine million people, is sending out its annual call letter to the 285 participating health plans requiring them to implement critical new protections, including continuity of care and information disclosure requirements. With these actions and actions that OPM took last year in response to the President's Executive Order, FEHBP will be in compliance with the Quality Commission's Patients' Bill of Rights by the year 2000.
Extending The Quality Commission's Patients' Bill Of Rights To FEHBP Enrollees. OPM has just completed an analysis that demonstrates that the projections that will be in place for federal employees will cost in total less than $10 a year--less than $1 a month. As a result of the President's Executive Directive last year, OPM has already implemented numerous patient protections, including access to specialists; access to obstetricians-gynecologists; access to emergency room services; and access to specialists outside the network for when the plan does not have a provider sufficient to provide a covered benefit.
Launching A Nationwide Petition Drive In Support Of The Patients' Bill of Rights. President Clinton, Democratic leaders, Congressional members and over 40 major health care organizations are launching a nationwide petition drive to urge Congress to pass a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights. The supporters of this legislation are committed to collecting over one million signatures. They announced that all Americans will be able to sign a national petition on-line through web sites that will be coordinated by Families USA.
Assuring Patients The Protections They Need With A Strong Patients' Bill of Rights. The President and Democratic Congressional members have been calling for a Patients' Bill of Rights for over two years. The Democrats introduced strong patients' rights legislation in the last Congress and have reintroduced their proposal this year. A strong enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights would include:
- Guaranteed access to needed health care specialists;
- Access to emergency room services when and where the need arises;
- Continuity of care protections to assure patient care if a patient's health care provider is dropped;
- Access to a timely internal and independent external appeals process with a medical necessity standard;
- Assurance that doctors and patients can openly discuss treatment options;
- An enforcement mechanism ensuring recourse for patients who have been harmed as a result of health plan actions.
President Clinton Is Committed To A Strong Patients' Bill of Rights. President Clinton urged Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to pass a strong enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights this year. The Senate GOP plan that recently passed by the Senate Labor Committee fails to include many basic consumer protections that all of the nine million federal employees enjoy. Their plan does not assure patients adequate access to specialists; has no basic standard for network adequacy; does not have continuity of care for when the employer drops the plan; and does not require member to receive information about key plan characteristics, like benefits and cost sharing, to be provided annually.