For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 1, 2001
Statement by the President
Representative Charles Norwood
on Patients' Bill of Rights
the James S. Brady Briefing Room
5:40 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Today, I'm very
pleased to announce that Congressman Norwood and I have reached an
agreement on how to get a patients' bill of rights out of the House of
Charlie started on this issue six years
ago. He's worked diligently to protect Americans, patients,
from wrongdoings. I appreciate so very much his spirit,
because I share the same concerns. And now, after long hard
labors, we've reached an agreement on how to amend his bill, that will
meet the principles that I outlined.
When I first came to Washington -- right
after I came to Washington, I gave a speech that talked about the
principles necessary for a patients' bill of rights. In that
speech, I wanted a bill -- a bill that was good for patients, a bill
that allowed for people to be able to air their grievances, a bill that
did not encourage frivolous lawsuits.
Charlie also shares the deep concern --
I'll let him express his own concerns -- but there's no question that
he, himself, wanted to get a bill. He was practicing the art of what
is possible. It's a spirit we need more of in
Washington: people who come to this city with the intent of
doing what's right; the intent of having accomplishment; the intent of
not playing -- you know, bickering over politics and getting
intransigence because you don't get everything you want.
And so after a lot of labor and a lot of
hard work and a lot of discussion, we shook hands in the Oval Office,
about 10 minutes ago. And Charlie is going to head up to the
Hill. I've spoken to the Speaker. We're going to work on
the language of the agreed upon amendment. And it'll give
the members something positive to vote for.
I want to thank Charlie Norwood for his
hard work, for his -- the southern gentlemen that he is, for his
willingness to work with the White House. It's a good signal
for a lot of folks in Capitol Hill.
Now, Mr. Norwood.
REPRESENTATIVE NORWOOD: Thank
you very much, Mr. President. It's a rather exciting time
for me. It's been a long six years, and we've all written a
number of bills and we've destroyed a lot of trees. My goal
this time was to work with this President, who as Governor Bush, we had
a few fun rides in Georgia in a van, and I knew he wanted a bill to
protect the patients of this country and I knew it was just a matter of
time, to keep working until we could get there.
However, the bottom line and the gold is,
we want to change the law. And the last time I looked, that's pretty
difficult to do without the Presidential signature. So it
was a situation where we had to keep talking through this thing, where
we could get the President satisfied and willing to sign it but, at the
same time, abide by the principles that we started out to do.
And the outline of this agreement, which
will later tonight be put into language, does just that. It
does protect the patients of this country. The stakeholders
that have worked for me and with me, in both parties, are going to be
very pleased with this because we accomplished the very goals we
started out to do.
And when we set out, what we wanted to do
was have standards changed in this country regarding health care as it
has developed over the last 30 years. We wanted to make sure
people could choose their own doctor. We wanted to make sure
that if a patient had any recourse -- and was harmed, they had recourse
in some type of court setting other than the situation we have now,
where so many cases are preempted.
And, lastly, and very importantly, we
wanted to have a good external review by independent folks to give
patients a place to go, someone to turn to when nobody would
help. And this President is going to deliver that for them
and I think the people of America should be very, very grateful for the
hard work he's put in, arm-twisting he's done. And this has
worked out to be, I think, a great opportunity.
So thank you very much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Get to work up
there on the Hill, Charlie. Thank you very much.
Thank you, all.
5:43 P.M. EDT