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AOA Executive Director Declares Patients' Rights Top Priority at White House Meeting.

WASHINGTON, May 3 /PRNewswire/ --

In a top-level White House meeting, American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Executive Director, John Crosby, JD declared the AOA's commitment to meaningful patients' rights legislation with a plan to launch a unified and full-force grassroots campaign in support of the Norwood-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights.

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"Enactment of the Patients' Bill of Rights is the highest priority in our Washington Office. A right without a remedy is not a right -- it is a request. And, when it comes to managed care, our patients are demanding more," says AOA Executive Director John Crosby, JD. "The health professions need to unite behind one issue -- at this time it is the Patients' Bill of Rights. We have pledged to help the Clinton Administration and the majority in Congress to employ all of our grassroots and other resources to accomplish this goal."

The AOA committed to mobilizing the 44,000 osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) and hundreds of thousands of patients it represents through legislative hotline recordings (800-560-6229), grassroots action alerts and web-based patients' rights updates at . Meeting participants White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and Labor Secretary Alexis Herman welcomed this commitment. Crosby also told White House senior advisors Chris Jennings and Barbara Woolley the AOA would closely work with the other patient advocates attending the meeting.

At the meeting, advisors revealed that leading conferees would be invited to a White House meeting next Monday to discuss the progress of patients' rights negotiations. The AOA believes the conference committee's slow progress needs to accelerate, as patients' deserve a Patients' Bill of Rights now, not next year.

According to the AOA, a meaningful patients' bill of rights allows physicians to determine medical necessity, holds health plans accountable for their actions, provides a fair and independent appeals process to patients, and ensures these basic protections apply to all Americans. While patients' rights conferees have agreed on legislative concepts of access to emergency room services and pediatricians, prohibition of discrimination against providers and external review, they have not reached an agreement on the scope of patient care or health plan liability. AOA firmly believes meaningful patients' rights legislation must provide patient protections to all Americans and hold all health plans accountable for medical decisions that harm or injure a patient.

"This meeting was a major milestone for the osteopathic profession," says Crosby. "Without the leadership of our Council on Federal Health Programs, the Unity campaign and our grassroots operations, it would have never happened. As John Podesta, President Clinton's Chief of Staff said, the next time AOA and other meeting participants are invited to the White House, it will be to witness the signing of the Patients' Bill of Rights into law."

Under the direction of the Council on Federal Health Programs, the AOA embarked on a nationwide effort to involve osteopathic physicians in the patients' rights debate. Aside from regular action alerts and an orchestrated effort to unify state, affiliate and non-practice osteopathic medical group advocacy, the AOA organized a Capitol Hill day to lobby Members of Congress on patients' rights in April. The Unity Campaign, AOA's public relations campaign dedicated to making D.O.s a household word, ran ads in USA Today, CQ Weekly and Roll Call.

The AOA represents more than 44,000 osteopathic physicians across the country, encourages scientific research, promotes public health and is the accrediting agency for all osteopathic medical schools and health care facilities.
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 4, 2000
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