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"Don't be Fooled," Warns BRT: New Norwood Bill Does More Harm Than Good
Contact: John Schachter

Release Date: 08/24/1999

Washington, DC - Warning Congress not to be fooled by Rep. Charlie Norwood's (R-GA) latest and costly version of a health care regulation bill, The Business Roundtable (BRT) announced today that it is running new radio ads highlighting the dire consequences of this legislation (H.R. 2723). The ads, which will run in select media markets during the August congressional recess, point to the devastating effect this legislation would have on hard-working Americans and businesses that voluntarily provide health benefits to their employees.

"There's a bill in Congress they call a patients' bill of rights. But don't be fooled," states the ad. "It won't provide insurance if you don't have any, or make it easier to afford. Instead, it raises premiums for every family - and leaves many without any insurance at all. Plus, it invents all kinds of new lawsuits."

"This legislation is a classic case of government overreaction that will do more harm than good. It is a bill full of big government mandates that will drive up costs, increase the number of uninsured and expose employers to costly new lawsuits - threatening the very future of employer-sponsored health care," said Samuel L. Maury, president of The Business Roundtable.

The new Norwood bill contains many of the same high-priced provisions that are in the Gephardt-Dingell bill (H.R.358) - a bill the Congressional Budget Office said would raise premiums 6.1% and would "have a significant effect on costs." One of the most alarming provisions - expanded liability - is contained in both bills and would put businesses at risk of being sued for medical malpractice.

Although Rep. Norwood claims that his new bill exempts employers from liability for medical decisions, the reality is it does not. The only way employers can escape liability under his new bill is to give up any responsibility for benefit decisions affecting their employees. Even if his bill could effectively shelter employers - which it does not - the costs of expanded liability would still be passed on to employers, employees and their families. The only employer that would be exempt from expanded liability would be the federal government.

"Patients' Bill of Rights? They oughta call it the Lawyers' Right to Bill," states an employer in the ad. "Get this: I can get sued for medical malpractice, just for providing health insurance. Great, that'll put me out of business and my employees won't have insurance or a job. Then what? They don't let you sue Congress."

"Members of Congress and the American public should know that Rep. Norwood is trying to pass off his 'bill of goods' under the guise of a bill of rights. We urge Congress not to be fooled by this costly bill," added Maury.

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The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading corporations with a combined workforce of more than 10 million employees, providing health benefits to over 25 million Americans. The chief executives are committed to advocating public policies that foster vigorous economic growth and a dynamic global economy.

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2001 The Business Roundtable