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July Capitol Hill Watch Alert

House of Representatives to Consider Two Versions of the Patient's Bill of Rights

UPDATE July 27, 2001 - A vote on the Patients' Bill of Rights bills has been delayed until after Labor Day according to House Republican leaders. However, the White House negotiated a partial agreement late on July 26, 2001, with proponents of the Ganske-Dingell-Norwood bill that would allow patients to sue their HMO's in state courts. If an agreement is reached that satisfies the President's concerns, the legislation could be taken to the floor as early as the week of July 30, 2001 according to Speaker of the House Hastert.

The House of Representatives is considering two forms of Patients' Bill of Rights legislations — Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001 (H.R. 526) and the Patients' Bill of Rights Act of 2001 (H.R. 2315).

Bill Summaries:

Bipartian Patient Protection Act of 2001 (H.R. 526) - The Ganske-Dingell-Norwood patients' bill of rights measure unfortunately increases the risk of costly liability. If it passes, many employers may no longer be able to afford to offer coverage to employees because of the predicted premium increases in anticipation of costly lawsuits. Tragically, under either H.R. 526 or the Kennedy-McCain patients' bill of rights legislation in the Senate, low-income employees, in particular, who can barely afford health insurance will become uninsured. Conservatively, the numbers of uninsured in the nation could rise from 43 million to as many as 52 million because of the dramatic increase in the cost of health care due to this legislation.

Patients' Bill of Rights Act of 2001 (H.R. 2315) - A compromise bill, H.R. 2315, is being offered by Representatives (Dr.) Ernie Fletcher (R-KY), Colin Peterson (D-MN), Nancy Johnson (R-CT), and Richard Burr (R-NC) The measures' sponsors have indicated that the legislation will ensure needed patient protection while limiting liability lawsuits. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has said, "Dr. Fletcher's bipartisan bill is the only legislation in the Congress that stands a real chance of passing and being signed into law by President Bush since the White House already has announced its intention of vetoing the trial lawyer-backed Kennedy-McCain bill moving through the Senate."

Although H.R. 2315 is not as extreme as H.R. 526, government mandates on free-market health maintenance organizations (HMO's) will not strengthen the nation's health care system or improve the quality of patient care across the nation.

What America needs is the FREEDOM TO CHOOSE their own health insurance that allows them to select a policy that best suits their health care needs, just as they do when purchasing car, home or life insurance. To have quality, affordable health care coverage, health plans and insurance companies would be forced to respond to their customers because of free-market competition.

To strengthen the nation's health care system, Americans must be empowered to make their own decisions about the health plan they want and flexible coverage that can be taken with them if they move, retire, start their own business or change jobs. Neither bill fits this model for a health care system that empowers patients.

For more information on Patients' Bill of Rights, click here.

What Can You Do?

Contact your representative and urge him/her NOT to support either the Patients' Bill of Rights Act of 2001 (H.R. 2315) or the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001 (H.R. 526).

Contact Information:

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your representative's office.)

To go to your representative's website, find his E-mail or to find out who your representatives are... http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html

To electronically mail your U.S. House of Representative, go to http://www.house.gov/htbin/wrep_findrep.

Addressing Correspondence:

The Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative (last name):

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