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Employers from Around the Country Rally Against Health Care Lawsuits
Contact: Johanna Schneider

(202) 872-1260
Release Date: 03/07/2000

Group Urges Opposition to Dingell-Norwood Bill

Washington, DC - The Business Roundtable and employers from around the country joined together today to voice opposition to the Dingell-Norwood bill and provisions to expose employers to health care lawsuits. The group, comprised of large and small businesses, urged the conference committee on patients' rights legislation to heed employers' warnings that Dingell-Norwood will benefit trial lawyers and force many employers to drop health coverage.

Demonstrating united employer concern over health care liability, business men and women from Arizona, California, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin spoke out against the devastating effect this legislation will have on employer-sponsored health insurance. Additionally, more than 800 employers and employer groups have signed more than 40 letters to members of Congress detailing their opposition to any liability provision included as part of the conference bill. Some of the letters thanked members of Congress for their vote against Dingell-Norwood, while others expressed disappointment in members' support of this damaging legislation.

Employers are also communicating to their employees about the harmful consequences of runaway lawsuits. "I have personally communicated to FMC employees how the Dingell-Norwood bill could jeopardize current health insurance benefits," stated Robert N. Burt, chairman and chief executive officer of Chicago-based FMC Corporation and chairman of The Business Roundtable. "Instead of expensive litigation that can take years to get through the court system, we support a quick and independent review that will ensure that our employees and their families get the care they need when they need it." An employee outreach video produced by Caterpillar was also shown at the press conference.

As shown today, employers fear they may have to reevaluate their roles in providing health benefits if faced with going to court. "I would consider dropping coverage to my employees altogether if I am at risk for being sued," said Rodney Smith, president of Smith-Midland a concrete business located in Midland, Virginia. Even for those employers who don't drop coverage entirely, the exposure to costly health care lawsuits will leave many employers with no other choice but to reduce benefits or increase premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

In addition to countless new lawsuits, the Dingell-Norwood bill is estimated to burden American families and businesses by driving up the cost of health benefits - 4.1 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office. The 4.1 percent would come on top of an already expected 12 percent rise in health care costs this year for many large employers - for small employers it will be even worse. This 4.1 percent increase in costs will force 1.2 million more into the ranks of the uninsured, since experts say every 1 percent increase in premiums results in 300,000 more uninsured.

"Employers voluntarily provide health benefits to 160 million Americans," said Johanna Schneider, Director of Communications for The Business Roundtable. "However, if Congress passes a bill that allows employers to be hauled into court, many employers will have no other choice but to stop providing coverage altogether. We urge the conference committee to reject this costly legislation and work towards a better solution that doesn't benefit trial lawyers at the expense of employers, employees and their families."

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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 in the United States. 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