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Public Statements

Issue Position: Patients' Bill of Rights

Issue Position

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WE NEED THE PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS

Congressman Brad Sherman co-sponsored the Patients' Bill of Rights, to guarantee patients access to care, to guarantee patients have the right to act if something should go wrong and to keep medical decisions in the hands of doctors --- not accountants. The Patients' Bill of Rights failed by one vote. A Republican alternative, which actually makes the system worse, passed by five votes.

The Patients Bill of Rights has wide support: More than 170 doctor, consumer, provider, senior citizen and labor organizations supported the Patients Bill of Rights which failed by one vote.

Guarantees emergency care: The Patients' Bill of Rights guarantees access to emergency and necessary post-stabilization care, and protects patients from unfair charges for out of network care.

Lifts the "gag rule" It allows doctors to communicate freely with their patients. The Patients' Bill of Rights also prohibits health plans from providing physicians with incentives to deny or limit care.

Allows fair appeals: The Patients' Bill of Rights guarantees all Americans access to an independent body of experts who would be able to resolve disputes between patients and their health plan.

Guarantees privacy: The Patients' Bill of Rights maintains current state and federal protection of privacy for medical records.

Lets doctors do their job: The Patients' Bill of Rights allows doctors, not insurance company clerks, to make medical decisions.

The Republican Version is a Disaster

It doesn't have wide support: The National Federation of Independent Business, NFIB, an extremely conservative group, is the only major organization to endorse the Republican alternative to the Patients Bill of Rights.

It hurts Californians: It would take away guarantees of alcoholism treatment, cervical cancer screening, mental health care, off label drug use, pre-natal care and well-child care, among other things, here in California.

Removes local accountability: Under the Republican bill, Association Health Plans would be created which would not only override any state consumer protections, but would remove entirely the state's ability to regulate insurance companies in these areas.

Creates a huge new bureaucracy: The bill creates a new division in Health and Human Services.

Keeps the "gag rule" The bill allows health plans to gag doctors, giving health plans the right to prevent doctors from discussing some expensive treatments with patients.

Removes patients' privacy protections: The Republican plan allows, without the patient's consent, any person who maintains protected health information to disclose any part of a medical record to any health care provider or health plan for the purposes of conducting health care operations. There are no subsequent restrictions on what can be done with the information.

Allows insurance bureaucrats to play doctor: The Republican plan changes current law and allows health plan personnel not doctors or arbitrators to decide what is medically necessary for the patient.

What's NOT in the Republican plan: protections for continuity of care; access to clinical trials; access to necessary prescription drugs; ability of women to have their ob/gyn act as their primary care physician; direct access to women's health professionals; timely access to appropriate specialty care; and protections for health care workers who advocate on behalf of their patients or report quality violations.


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