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C-PALSY  March 2000

C-PALSY March 2000

Subject:

FW: Patients' Rights and Medicare/Prescription Drugs

From:

"I. S. Margolis" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

St. John's University Cerebral Palsy List

Date:

Mon, 6 Mar 2000 12:45:45 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (183 lines)

-----Original Message-----
From: Virtual Majordomo Account [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On
Behalf Of Justice For All Moderator
Sent: Sunday, March 05, 2000 9:44 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Patients' Rights and Medicare/Prescription Drugs


                        Justice For All

                        [log in to unmask]

       Patients' Rights and Medicare/Prescription Drugs

Jeff Kirsch, [log in to unmask], writes:

PATIENTS' RIGHTS
While the Republican staff have been meeting behind the scene, the
Senate-House Conference Committee meets today to start the public part
of the
work to report out a patients' rights bill. The Republican leadership
says it
wants work done on a bill before the end of the month and sent to the
President before the spring recess (April 15). We're pushing for the
bi-partisan House bill, which has strong protections and holds managed
care
companies accountable. However, as we've reported before, the Conference
Committee is stacked against a strong bill. We and our colleagues are
meeting
with White House staff to encourage them to keep firm and insist on
strong
protections (and to urge them to veto any bill that is a sham or that
includes
provisions that weaken the health insurance system. (We have done fact
sheets
on some of these "poison pill" provisions that are in the bill, which
can be
found on our web site at: http://familiesusa.org/poisonp.htm.)

We encourage you to contact your members of congress (which you can do
electronically from our Web site's Legislative Action Center,
http://congress.nw.dc.us/familiesusa)
or call your local office. Also, letters-to-the-editor on patients'
rights are
very useful. We urge you to write a brief letter emphasizing that it's
time
for Congress to act on this issue and report out a real patients'
protection
bill, like the bi-partisan House bill, that allows your doctor to make
decisions and holds the HMOs accountable for their decisions, just like
doctors and hospitals are held liable for their actions.

Also, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public
Health
have been monitoring public attitudes towards managed care and
Americans'
views on alternative approaches to consumer protection. An updated
summary of
Kaiser's public opinion work on this issue, including new
findings from a survey conducted earlier this month is available on-line
at
http://www.kff.org/content/2000/3005a
..

MEDICARE AND PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
There is a lot of talk about this issue, and it's HOT. The public is
strongly
supportive of providing prescription drug coverage, but it's hard to
know
whether any legislation will move in this election year. The President
has
just released a report on Medicare, which the White House hopes will
promote
action. (See the summary at
http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/Work/022900.html.)

The pharmaceutical industry, recognizing the power of the issue, has
been
spending millions of dollars in advertising to limit what Congress does
about
prescription drugs. They favor a limited drug benefit that can be
delivered
through private insurance. They oppose a government-run benefit because
they
are fearful of the government setting reimbursement rates. Moreover, as
you'll
see from the Health Insurance Association of America release at the end
of
this memo, it is opposed to creating a drug benefit that would be
delivered
through private insurance plans. As you can see, our opposition is
fighting
each other on this.

We should continue to push for a prescription drug benefit that is a
universal Medicare benefit (not just the low-income) and that is
affordable
(both in terms of what people on Medicare pay for the Medicare benefit,
and
what prices they are charged for the drugs). We also have to make sure
that,
in our push for a drug benefit, that the Medicare program is not changed
in
dangerous ways, such as is envisioned in the radical Breaux-Frist
privatization proposal. This plan would weaken traditional Medicare, and
penalize seniors for not joining HMOs.

We'll keep you posted on these developments. Here's the HIAA press
release so
you can see how part of the opposition is expressing itself.

--

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Carrie B. Tydings
February 29, 2000

(202) 824-1786
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

The following statement was released today by Chip Kahn, President of
the
Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA):

The Health Insurance Association of America appreciates the President's
commitment to helping seniors pay for prescription drugs, but there is a
better way.  The President's proposal to provide prescription drug
coverage
is simply the addition of an expensive benefit to a program which is
already
in significant financial trouble and in need of broader reform.

Because real reform will take time, HIAA has formulated a plan that will
provide immediate help to seniors by providing tax credits for
out-of-pocket
expenses, financial support for low-income seniors, and fair payments to
Medicare+Choice plans-- most of which offer drug benefits.  This is a
better
option than the President's plan or other proposed plans which rely on
new
private drug insurance options or mandates.

"Stand-alone" drug-only insurance policies, as some have proposed,
simply
will not work in the real world.  Further, mandating that
Medicare+Choice or
Medigap plans cover prescription drugs will only increase premiums and
force
many seniors to lose coverage altogether.

Lastly, the President's plan to extend coverage to Americans aged 55-65
would place an enormous burden on the already financially beleaguered
Medicare program.  HIAA's proposal-InsureUSA-would help provide private
insurance coverage for these Americans through tax relief and additional
help for low-income Americans between 55-65.

Jeff Kirsch, Field Director
Families USA
1334 G St., NW
Washington, DC  20005
Phone: 202-628-3030    Fax: 202-347-2417
[log in to unmask]
www.familiesusa.org

"Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most
shocking
and inhumane." - Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

--
Fred Fay
Chair, Justice For All
[log in to unmask]
http://www.jfanow.org

Register to Vote Online at http://www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm

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