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Renae Wagner
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Clinton "Patients' Bill of Rights" Takes Away Right to Affordable Health Care for Millions of Americans

New poll shows Americans favor access to affordable health care over "tougher regulations on HMOs"

Washington, DC, January 20, 1999 - In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Clinton pushed for passage of a Patients' Bill of Rights that would deny millions of Americans the right to affordable health care. The Kennedy-Daschle bill, which the president endorsed, is the most costly big government health care plan since ClintonCare. It would increase already rising health care costs, forcing nearly two million Americans to lose their health care coverage next year. Yet a new poll shows eight out of ten Americans believe the current health care system is meeting their needs and are more concerned with rising health care costs and diminishing access to coverage than "tougher regulations on HMOs."

"Instead of making health care more expensive, as the president's proposals would do, Congress should work to help reduce health care costs and increase coverage," said Dan Danner, chairman of the Health Benefits Coalition, which represents more than three million employers providing health care coverage to 100 million Americans and their families. "It's time to address America's right to affordable health care coverage, something the president's State of the Union address failed to do."

A new poll conducted last week by Public Opinion Strategies found support for HMO reform drops dramatically once people find out that this legislation could increase health care costs and make insurance less accessible to many Americans. (Summary of findings attached.)

  • 82% of registered voters said Congress should make sure more people have "access to affordable health care" rather than making sure that "there are tougher regulations on HMOs" (14%).
  • 50% say Congress should make sure it "does not pass any legislation that would raise the cost of insurance premiums which could force many Americans and small businesses to drop their health coverage."
  • 45% of the people who initially favored an HMO patients' bill of rights, say they would then oppose this legislation if "it will raise the cost of everyone's health insurance premiums by roughly $200 a year."

In addition, by opening the health care system to a flood of new lawsuits, the president's bill of rights is estimated to increase premiums by 8.6% and force nearly two million more people to lose their coverage next year (Barents Group, 1998). Many employers would have to trim benefits or drop health insurance entirely out of fear that one lawsuit could bankrupt their business.

"This bill goes too far, too fast, with too much big government and would drive up health care costs that are already on the rise, undermining our ability to cover working families," said Danner.


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.