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Health and Retirement
Health and Retirement

Congressional Communications:

Summary of The Senate-Passed Patients' Bill of Rights

Statement by Arnold Milstein MD, on Health On Behalf of The Business Roundtable

Letter to Senator Nickles: Opposition to Kennedy-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights

Letter to Senate: Opposition to Patients' Bill of Rights Act

Testimony of Joe Laymon

Letter to Congress: Opposition to expanded liability

Letter to Senator Nickles: Opposition to Kennedy-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights

June 8, 2000

The Honorable Don Nickles
United States Senate
133 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Nickles:

On behalf of The Business Roundtable, I am writing to reiterate our deep concerns with the Kennedy-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights. As representatives of major employers across the country who voluntarily provide health benefits to more than 25 million people, we adamantly oppose the unlimited health care liability provisions contained in the Kennedy-Dingell legislation. If this bill were to pass, the future of America’s voluntarily employer-based health care system would be at great risk.

The majority of insured Americans receive their health coverage from their employers. However, if faced with the potential of unlimited liability, many employers would reevaluate their roles in providing health benefits. Even for those employers who don’t drop coverage entirely, the exposure to costly, unlimited lawsuits will leave many employers with no choice but to reduce benefits or pass the added costs on to their employees through increased premiums and out-of-pocket costs. This would further burden employers, workers and their families by driving up the cost of health insurance and forcing millions more into the ranks of the uninsured.

The prospect of years of expensive litigation and appeals offers little comfort to patients with legitimate concerns. An independent external review of patient disputes is a more efficient and fair resolution. Furthermore, a May 2000 Zogby poll shows more than 70 percent of the public support a quick, independent review over new lawsuits. Recently, supporters of Kennedy-Dingell acknowledged their bill does put employers at risk of being sued. But their offer to revise the bill still leaves employers wide open to runaway lawsuits. An analysis of the revisions by two ERISA law experts concluded, "Employers would still be subject to a ‘tidal wave’ of state court litigation should this proposal become law."

We urge you to reject the Kennedy-Dingell bill should it be brought to the Senate floor.

Samuel L. Maury
President, The Business Roundtable

cc: U.S. Senate
Washington Representatives of the BRT

June 8, 2000
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© 2001 The Business Roundtable