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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 18, 1998
11:09 AM
CONTACT:  Families USA
Lorie Slass 202-628-3030


Consumer Group Warns That Patient Protection Legislation Could Suffer Same Fate As Tobacco Bill Industry Lobbying and Million Dollar Advertising Campaign Could Kill Bipartisan Legislation
 
WASHINGTON - June 18 - Despite overwhelming public support, the Republican Leadership may again bow to big-business and industry pressure by killing legislation that would protect millions of Americans from managed care abuses, according to the national consumer group Families USA.

"Here are two issues that the American public has said time and again that they want resolved - tobacco use by kids and a patients' bill of rights," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.  "In the face of such public support, the tobacco industry and the insurance companies have aggressively lobbied Congress, spending millions on advertising and threatening not to contribute to campaign coffers in the upcoming election."

"On tobacco, it seems that the Republican Leadership listened to the tobacco companies rather than the American people.  I hope with patient protections, the American people, not the managed care companies, will win out," added Pollack.

Republican and Democratic pollsters have found strong public support for consumer protection legislation and a majority of members in the House have signed on to at least one of the comprehensive consumer protection bills pending in Congress.  Despite the clear majority, the Republican leadership has yet to put patient protections on the legislative calendar.

According to Pollack, "The insurance and managed care industries have put their considerable forces to bear to pressure Members of Congress into killing patient protection legislation.  They have been so effective that Speaker Newt Gingrich will not allow legislation to even be debated on the floor, despite bipartisan support for patient protections."

"With less than 50 days left on the legislative calendar, it is unclear if patient protections will even make it to the floor for debate," added Pollack.   "And it is quite possible that even if the legislation makes it to the floor, the Republican Leadership may cut the heart out of the bill and create legislation that offers no true patient protections.  In either case, the Congress will have again yielded to the considerable financial and lobbying pressure of big business, rather than the will of the American people."

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Families USA is the national organization for health care consumers. It is non-profit and non-partisan and advocates for high-quality health and long-term care for all Americans.

Families USA Foundation
1334 G Street, NW - Third Floor
Washington, DC 20005
www.familiesusa.org
Phone:  202-628-3030
Fax:    202-347-2417

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