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Questions for U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate Candidates

Patients Who Care is a non-partisan educational organization. It cannot endorse or support any political candidates. However, it's vital that every patient reading this newsletter does get involved in the upcoming elections.

The next Congress and President will be making major decisions on health care issues. As you read on the first page of this newsletter, Medical Savings Accounts are finally being put into law. However. only 750,000 policies are being allowed. This must be greatly expanded in the next Congress so all Americans have this choice.

Other issues include making sure that HMOs and other managed care companies don't continue their practice of putting gags on physicians so you don't know all your medical options. HMOs also shouldn't be allowed to have financial incentives that reduce needed care or referrals to specialists.

The 1996 elections are right around the corner. In the next few weeks, there'll be a number of candidate forums and other opportunities to ask questions of candidates for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Among the questions that should be asked are the following:

  1. Under the Kassebaum-Kennedy health care bill that was passed this year, less then one percent of the Ameri-can population can get a Medical Savings Account. Will you vote to allow all Americans to choose a Medical Savings Account?

  2. The media has reported how some HMOs put gag clauses in their contracts so that physicians can't tell their patients all their medical options. Other gag clauses are put in that prohibit a physician from telling patients that there are financial incentives in his contract if he limits care or limits the number of referrals. Do you support legislation that would make illegal such gag clauses?

  3. Will you support federal legislation that will make it illegal for HMOs or other managed care companies to financially reward physician gatekeepers or other health care providers to deny needed care or to restrict needed referrals to specialists?

  4. Do you believe that Medicare patients should be able to freely choose their own physicians and would you op-pose any change in Medicare that would limit such choices?

Candidate answers to the above four questions will tell you if that candidate supports quality medical care and patients' rights.

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