Washington President Clinton ordered the Labor Department on Saturday to quickly assure a "fair and unbiased" appeals process for people denied or delayed coverage under private health insurance plans. But he said his action does not nearly go far enough, and it is up to Congress to provide more health care protections and up to voters to make sure Congress acts.
"The only way to do those things is to pass a real, enforceable patients' bill of rights," Clinton announced in his weekly radio address.
Clinton instructed Labor Secretary Alexis Herman to release final internal appeals and consumer information regulations within two weeks.
The White House said that under current law, health plans making decisions on coverage "often do not have medical expertise to make such decisions" and that appeals of adverse actions can take as long as 300 days.
"Countless patients have been harmed by inappropriate delays and denials of coverage," a White House statement said.
The action will apply to the 130 million workers and family members belonging to private, employer-sponsored plans.