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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Finds Civil Liberties Implications in Health Care Reform; Calls on Congress To Pass Comprehensive Act that Protects Civil Rights -- Releases `Health Care Reform Bill of Rights' -- For IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 7, 1994 WASHINGTON -- In a comprehensive analysis of President Clinton's Health Security Act, the American Civil Liberties Union has released a new public policy report calling on Congress to approve comprehensive health care reform legislation that advances civil liberties and civil rights. The 41-page report, "Toward A New Health Care System: The Civil Liberties Issues," explains that although the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly guarantee a right to adequate health care, its denial can threaten an individual's constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. The report looks at four major civil liberties principles implicated by health care reform: Equal protection under the law, personal privacy, due process of law and the First Amendment freedoms of religion and speech. The ACLU also released a "Health Care Reform Bill of Rights," a succinct compilation of the most serious issues that Congress should consider when weighing any proposal for health care reform. "Since the early part of this century, federal, state and local governments have played an ever-increasing role in the delivery of health care," said Laura Murphy Lee, Director of the ACLU's national Washington Office. "Yet poor people, people with disabilities, women and people of color still lack the appropriate levels of primary medical care and disease prevention and treatment." "In addition," Lee said, "current government policies have contributed to substantial deprivations of civil rights and civil liberties that require legislative action to correct." The report, which has been distributed to every member of Congress and to the Clinton Administration, applauds the Administration's efforts to bring about reform, but is critical of provisions of the Health Security Act that compromise civil rights or civil liberties. For example: > The Act unjustifiably excludes several groups from the promise of universal coverage, including undocumented non-citizens, prisoners and Native Americans. This exclusion raises equal protection concerns. > The Act requires the creation of a national, linked electronic data network containing vast amounts of biographical and health information on every U.S. resident, but fails to establish explicit, enforceable protections to safeguard peoples' right to privacy. > The Act creates administrative remedies for consumers to challenge the denial of benefits, but the prescribed procedures contemplate methods that may take more than a year to complete, compromising the due process rights of patients who need preauthorization for treatment. > The Act requires that all eligible individuals enroll in health plans. However, certain religious faiths, notably Christian Science, reject conventional medicine. The First Amendment requires that the Act recognize the equivalent of "conscientious objector" status for such individuals. Although the new report looks specifically at President Clinton's proposed legislation, Lee said that many of the issues civil liberties problems in the Health Security Act are likely to apply to other health care reform proposals as well. --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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