With a Senate vote on a patients' bill
of rights expected in early September, American Medical Association leaders
this week head to Oklahoma and Tennessee to mobilize grassroots support to
pass a strong patients' bill of rights.
"We are within one vote of victory in the Senate," said AMA President
Elect Richard F. Corlin, MD. "This week we are going to Oklahoma and Tennessee
to bring a message to the Republican senators in those states: 'Listen to the
people, stop playing games and pass meaningful patients' rights legislation.'
"In the weeks ahead, we expect several Republican senators to listen to
the voices of their constituents and vote for real patients' rights," Dr.
Corlin said. Recent polls show that more than 80 percent of registered voters
favor strong patient protections, including the right to sue HMOs.
The AMA is running ads in newspapers across both states asking voters to
call 1-800-833-6354 and tell their senators "to get serious and pass a real
patients' bill of rights."
"The people of Oklahoma have strong state patients' rights legislation,"
Dr. Corlin said. "All Americans deserve these kinds of protections from
managed care abuses. Either of Oklahoma's senators can make history by
providing that one vote to extend these protections to everyone."
"The only thing standing between patients and a real bill of rights is the
insurance industry, which is spending more than $100 million to kill the bill,
money that should go into patient care. They try to scare Congress into
believing that the country can't afford patients' rights. The truth is -- we
can't afford not to pass patients' rights.
"Insurers claim that passing patients' rights legislation will raise
premiums and increase the number of uninsured. At the same time, without
patients' rights in place, insurers tout premium increases of eight to 12
percent to impress their stockholders. What happens to the number of uninsured
when insurers raise premiums to increase profits? They can't have it both
The AMA's National House Call grassroots effort has been on the road since
last winter, urging candidates to address important health care issues and
calling for passage of meaningful patients' rights legislation. For more
details, visit the AMA's web site at http://www.ama-assn.org.