Longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader today called upon Californians to sign the Patient Protection Act, an initiative proposed by nurses and patients to end abuses by the cash-rich managed care industry, and to increase patient access to quality, safe health care, Seven hundred thousand signatures must be collected by April 19 to qualify the proposal for the November, 1996 state ballot.
"Passing the Patient Protection Act is the single most critical health care battle this year," said Nader. "Four HMOs, to give one example, are each sitting on over $1 billion in cash, with massively self-enriching CEOs at the top, while families are losing access to quality health care with no way to fight back."
The PPA would end the arbitrary denial of care by HMOs and insurers, ban financial incentives to withhold health services, and end gag rules that prevent doctors from disclosing all treatment options to patients. The initiative would also establish an independent consumer watchdog organization to assist patients and impose fees on CEO's stock holdings to pay for emergency and preventive care.
At a press conference in San Francisco today launching the reform campaign, Nader joined with patients whose families had suffered from denial of care, and nurses who have seen the effects of unsafe changes in care delivery.
"This campaign is one of major national significance," said Nader. "The denial of care, gag rules for doctors and nurses, morbidity bonuses to reduce care, administrative waste, fraud, abuse and grotesque executive salaries and other riches are all a national scandal. The initiative fight in California will send a crucial signal to Wall Street and Washington D.C. that Americans are fed up and fighting back."
The California Nurses Association and Prop. 103 author Harvey Rosenfield, who teamed with Nader in 1988 on the successful auto insurance reform measure, sponsor the Patient Protection Act.
"As nurses, we have seen enough patients deprived of their right to the care they need," said CNA President Kit Costello, RN. "We have seen enough profiteering by industry executives who don't see what is happening at the bedside and don't care."
"Too many patients are subjected to needless suffering," said Rosenfield. "Too many consumers have seen their rights trampled on by corporate giants who are placing millions at risk. The Patient Protection Act is a response to the concentration and intrusion of managed care and its unprecedented emphasis on corporate profits rather than patient protection."