Brian Lindberg (202)789-3606
"The Consumer Coalition is united by the conviction that assuring and improving the quality of health care for all Americans must be an explicit goal of our health care system," said Brian Lindberg, Executive Director of the Coalition. "As health care delivery moves to managed care, we cannot permit the emphasis on cost control to jeopardize the quality of health care that Americans deserve and expect."
Mr. Lindberg applauded today's House Commerce Committee Hearing on the "gag rule" but said "it represents the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the work needed on the quality agenda under managed care."
A diverse group of consumer and labor organizations - from those representing the elderly, children, and the disabled to those representing nurses, hospital workers, and public employees - has come together to form the Coalition. Members of the Coalition fear access to care is eroding in the ever changing health care system where corporate restructuring and downsizing in the health care industry is in the news on a daily basis.
Andy Webber, Senior Associate for Quality Policy at the Coalition, stated, "Just as we judge any society by how it treats its poorest citizens, we must judge a managed care plan by how it treats its most vulnerable members - the poor, the sick, the disabled, the chronically ill, and the frail elderly. Let us not forget that the fiscal incentive for managed care plans is likely to underserve people which makes monitoring all aspects of patient care imperative."
The Consumer Coalition unveiled its activities for the year in support of the quality agenda. The Coalition has established a Quality Health Care Line, 1-800-720-8090, to collect consumer stories of poor quality health care. In addition, the Coalition is writing federal and state model legislation to protect consumer interests and establish quality assurance programs.
"As 3,000 bills dealing with managed care hit statehouses around the country this year, state health care advocates valiantly fought to keep consumer protection and quality issues in the debate," said Angela Ledford, State Campaign Director. At conferences and workshops around the country, the Coalition will prepare state consumer advocates to advance legislative initiatives in the quality area and will act as a clearinghouse of information on state managed care issues.
Lindberg concluded by saying, "We have a pro-consumer, pro-patient agenda to put quality first in the health care policy debate and in the reality of the emerging health care marketplace. We urge consumers to join us in the fight."
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