Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

Pascrell Blasts Bush, House GOP Leadership for Gutting Real Patient Protection Bill

Aug 2, 2001
Press Release

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J., 8th) issued the following statement regarding today's decision by the House Republican leadership to stand arm in arm with President George W. Bush in gutting a comprehensive, bipartisan managed care reform bill that had already passed the United States Senate:

"Today, President Bush and the House Republicans have demonstrated that their support for meaningful patient protections was nothing but hollow lip-service, and that their only real objective was to protect insurance companies.  What the President and his cohorts did today in the people's House was turn their backs on people and embrace insurance companies.

"Our managed care system in this country is fatally flawed, and rather than fix it in a meaningful, bipartisan way, the House voted to make profits and bottom lines more important than the families we represent.  
Put simply, House Republicans chose to jettison a comprehensive, bipartisan Patients Bill of Rights in favor of a wholly partisan HMO Bill of Rights."

We all agree that patients should have access to emergency rooms, specialists, clinical trials, continuity of care, and the medical advice of their own physician. I cannot, however, vote for any bill that fails to hold HMO's appropriately accountable when its arbitrary decision to delay or deny treatment results in tragic consequences for a patient.  The accountability provisions in the "Bush-GOP HMO Protection Act" are nothing but an immunity blanket for insurers, and that is not what we were sent to Congress to do.

Last night, a critically important patient protection bill was cast aside.  It was replaced by a bill which actually contains a presumption in favor of insurers over patients, pre-empts tough state laws, and creates new federal tort law to insulate HMO's.  It is mind-boggling that people could call this patient protection with a straight face."