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Renae Newmiller
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New Congressional Budget Office numbers raise the cost of Kennedy Care by 50%

Washington, DC, April 26, 1999 – The Kennedy-Dingell "Patients’ Bill of Rights" will increase health care costs even more than originally expected and will have "a significant effect on the costs of private insurance," according to revised estimates released today by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The new CBO estimate is 6.1 percent – a 50 percent increase over its last estimate of 4.1 percent nine months ago. CBO estimates that the cost of private-sector mandates would total about $56 billion over the 2000-2004 period and would greatly exceed the annual threshold established in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

"If the CBO estimate went up by fifty percent after just nine months, in the real world how much higher will premiums go up when this bill is actually enacted?" stated Dan Danner, chairman of the Health Benefits Coalition. "The fact is, Congress is gambling with the health care costs of hard-working Americans, and the Kennedy-Dingell bill is a bad bet."

Another study by the Barents Group found the liability provision alone in the Kennedy-Dingell bill could increase premiums by as much as 8.6 percent – resulting in nearly 2 million more uninsured Americans and as much as $120 billion more in health care costs nationwide over the next five years.

Moreover, the CBO estimate does not take into account the fact that one costly lawsuit could wipe out a small business entirely – or that costs for small businesses, which typically pay more for health care, are likely to go up more than the 6.1 percent national average predicted by CBO.

This year, U.S. employers already face a predicted 7-10 percent rise in health care costs (Hewitt Associates). For small businesses the impact is even greater – in some cases increases of 20 percent or more. A 6.1 percent increase on top of the already predicted increase would prove too much for many businesses. The additional costs would force many employers to either pass the costs on to their employees or forego providing coverage altogether.

"With health care costs already on the rise, the last thing Congress should do is make things worse," said Danner. "We urge Congress to oppose any legislation that adds to the burden of families and businesses by raising costs and forcing millions more into the ranks of the uninsured."


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.