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Bush Outlines Administration's Take on Patients' Rights

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In a press conference held shortly after the speech, American College of Cardiology President Douglas P. Zipes, MD, noted that at least three similar bills already are pending in Congress, including one put forth by a bipartisan coalition headed by Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.).

"There seems to be a swell of support for patients' rights legislation," Zipes said. "Now, we've just got to make sure that we get members from both parties to work together and get a meaningful law enacted."

"The president is right -- we can enact a patients' bill of rights this year. And we agree that the legislation must hold health plans accountable when things go terribly wrong," says Thomas R. Reardon, MD, immediate-past president of the American Medical Association. "The question no longer is if health plans should be held accountable, but how they should be held accountable. When health plans play doctor and harm or kill patients, they should be answerable to the same state judicial review that holds real doctors accountable."

The AMA has lobbied actively for the McCain-Edwards patients' bill of rights for the past three years.

Kennedy, who has worked closely with McCain on the bill, notes that "for five years this urgently needed legislation has been blocked by the insurance industry. We cannot allow this important legislation to become yet another trophy for special interests."

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