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Boehner Joins Employers In Fight To Preserve Health Benefits For Working Families

Group Warns Expanded Liability Threatens Employer-Based Health Care

Washington, DC, September 15, 1999 – Employers – large and small – joined with Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) today to oppose the Dingell-Norwood bill (H.R. 2723) and all legislation that would expose employers to lawsuits over health benefits decisions and coverage. The Health Benefits Coalition also unveiled a letter with the names of more than 100 major companies opposed to expanded health care liability.

"We’re here as employers who voluntarily offer health benefits to our employees and want to continue to do so," stated Dan Danner, chairman of the Health Benefits Coalition. "But Congress needs to understand that exposing employers to health care liability would drastically affect our ability to offer affordable, quality care – leading to millions more uninsured Americans."

Rep. Boehner, chairman of the Education and the Workforce subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations, pointed to the fact that more than 124 million Americans receive their health coverage through their employer – and current proposals before Congress pose a direct threat to the health benefits of these workers. He stressed that Congress should be making it easier for these employers to provide benefits to their employees, not exposing them to costly lawsuits.

Johanna Schneider of The Business Roundtable referenced a new study on the liability provisions in the Dingell-Norwood legislation. "This study clearly shows that if this bill passes, employers of all sizes who offer health coverage will be at risk. Also at risk will be the millions of Americans who will be forced to join the already growing number of uninsured," she stated. The study was prepared by the law firm Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP.

Employers from around the country are warning Congress that if exposed to medical malpractice lawsuits they would have no other choice but to reduce benefits, increase premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, or eliminate coverage entirely. According to one poll, 57 percent of small businesses would drop health coverage for their employers rather than be exposed to new lawsuits.

"The threat of expanded liability would make it impossible for many businesses to provide coverage, or for many employees to afford it," stated Lisa Rickard of Ryder System, Inc. "The Dingell-Norwood bill would be devastating to American businesses – large and small."

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The Health Benefits Coalition is a broad-based organization representing three million employers providing health care coverage to more than 100 million employees and families. The coalition believes affordable, quality health care is best achieved through broader coverage, choice and competition in the marketplace -not government mandates.