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PASSAGE OF DISCLOSURE BILL A WIN FOR CONSUMERS, SAYS NEED TO KNOW COALITION

OLYMPIA, Wash., March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Calling it a consumer-rights victory, leaders of the Need To Know Coalition today hailed state lawmakers' passage of SB 6392, which provides important new safeguards for people enrolling in managed care plans.

The Need To Know Coalition represents more than 20 of Washington state's leading patient-advocacy groups, labor unions, and medical foundations and associations.

"This bill is a step in the right direction," said Carl Jones, President of the Arthritis Foundation, Washington state chapter. "It ensures that managed care plans must disclose information that consumers need when making informed health care decisions."

George H. Rice, M.D., president of the Washington State Medical Association, said, "This measure helps to re-enforce the trust on which the traditional physician-patient relationship is established. It helps to level the playing field with health-insurance carriers. We will be working in the coming year to further protect the physician-patient relationship."

Safeguards in SB 6392 include:

* Prohibiting so-called "gag orders" that restrict physicians'

ability to advocate certain treatments for patients;

* Requiring managed care plans to disclose whether there are

financial incentives in place for physicians who don't refer

patients to specialists;

* Disclosing of managed care plan policies that dictate which drugs

physicians can prescribe and whether physicians must get prior

authorization before a plan pays for treatments; and,

* Shielding individuals and organizations from potential lawsuits

when they prepare documents comparing managed care plans.

"There were many lawmakers who stepped forward to support SB 6392 when it looked like momentum for this legislation was flagging," said David Allen, public policy manager for the American Cancer Society's Washington division. "These legislators deserve a pat on the back, because the pressure to halt SB 6392 was intense."

Such legislators as Rep. Bill Backlund, R-Redmond; Rep. Phil Dyer, R- Issaquah, chairman of the House Health Care Committee; Rep. Cheryl Hymes, R-Mount Vernon; Rep. Betty Sue Morris, D-Vancouver; Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle; Sen. Jeannette Wood, R-Woodway; Sen. John Moyer, R-Spokane; and state Sen. Kevin Quigley, D-Lake Stevens, chairman of the Senate Health and Long-term Care Committee played significant roles in passage of the bill.

"The victory achieved by the Need To Know Coalition and others here in Washington state is just one small part of the effort to expand the rights of consumers when it comes to managed care plans," said Lenny Van Pelt, director of the International Patient Advocacy Association. "There are still areas we think lawmakers need to address and we'll be talking to them during the coming year."

Now that SB 6392 has been passed by both the House and Senate, it awaits only Gov. Mike Lowry's signature before it becomes law.

Active and affiliated members of The Need to Know Coalition include:

The Alzheimer's Association of Puget Sound, the American Cancer Society (Washington chapter), the American Diabetes Association (Washington affiliate), the Arthritis Foundation (Washington chapter), the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (Washington chapter), the International Patient Advocacy Association, Community Home Health Care, the Easter Seal Society of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The Hemophilia Foundation of Washington, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (Washington chapter), the Northwest AIDS Foundation, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Senior Services of Seattle/King County, Washington Advocates for the Mentally Ill, the Washington State Labor Council, the Washington State Medical Association, the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association and the Washington State Parkinson's Disease Association.
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/CONTACT: Brad Jurkovich, Coordinator of the Need To Know Coalition, 206-682-3390/

CO: Need To Know Coalition ST: Washington IN: HEA SU:

JF-JL -- SETH014 -- 1418 03/07/96 20:23 EST
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Date:Mar 7, 1996
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