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ACP-ASIM Pressroom

Internists Join President Clinton In Urging Congress To Enact Norwood-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights

ACP-ASIM's Dr. Mary Herald encourages meaningful protections in pending legislation.

(Washington, D.C.): Mary Herald, MD, FACP,a practicing endocrinologist, joined President Bill Clinton in urging Congress to enact a significant Patients' Bill of Rights at a White House Event on the South Lawn at 10:30am today. Dr. Herald practices medicine in Westfield, N.J. and is a member of the Board of Regents of the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM).

"I care for patients every day who desperately need the protection that a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights would provide them when they are at their most vulnerable— when they are ill, and worried about their families, and frightened themselves," Herald said in her introduction of the President. "The last thing they need is to have to worry about whether their managed care plan will be willing to provide them with the care they need when they need it. But too many people that pass through my hospital and office are forced to battle with their health plans at the same time they are fighting to recover from an illness."

ACP-ASIM supports the Norwood-Dingell version of a Patients' Bill of Rights which gives patients new protections such as access to specialty care, external appeals of health plan denials, and the ability to sue Health Maintenance Organizations in state courts. The Norwood-Dingell bill also includes a host of new rights to help patients deal with their health insurance companies.

The House bill, as sponsored by Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), has received bipartisan support in Congress and full backing from the Clinton Administration. The Senate version of the HMO reform bill lacks key patient protections, according to Herald. Differences between the two bills will be discussed in the first meeting of the conference committee today.

"Mr. President, everyone seems to be in favor of passing a Patients' Bill of Rights," Herald said. "Please let it be meaningful. We need to make sure that the patient protections we provide people are real."

ACP-ASIM is the nation's largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group. Membership comprises more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Internists are the major providers of medical care to adults in America and treat more Medicare patients than any other medical specialists.

Read Dr. Herald's statement

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