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Renae Newmiller
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Dingell Tries To Revive Failed Health Care Bill

Washington, DC, May 27, 1999 – Circumventing the committee process, Representative John Dingell (D-MI) is pushing a discharge petition for his Patients’ Bill of Rights – a bill that was previously rejected by both the House and Senate and is now going to cost 50% more than originally estimated.

"Unfortunately, anyone who signs the Dingell discharge petition will be signing up to raise the cost of family health care coverage and to force more Americans to forgo health insurance altogether," stated Dan Danner, chairman of the Health Benefits Coalition. "One of the most costly provisions of this legislation – exposing employers to health care liability – could put many businesses out of the business of providing health care. In fact, just one lawsuit could put a small business out of business entirely."

A recent cost analysis of the Kennedy-Dingell bill by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the bill will increase premiums 6.1 percent – a 50 percent increase over its last estimate of 4.1 percent nine months ago. This means the cost of family coverage will increase by more than $350* and nearly 2 million more Americans will be driven into the ranks of the uninsured.** 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.

Moreover, the CBO estimate does not take into account the fact that one costly lawsuit, due to the liability provision contained in the Kennedy-Dingell bill, could wipe out a small business – 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.

"Health care costs are already rising and the number of uninsured is already growing. Yet despite CBO’s warnings, some in Congress want to make things worse," said Danner. "We urge Congress not to pass any legislation that jeopardizes the health care of hard working Americans."

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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.

* KPMG’s "Health Benefits in 1998" – Average 1998 health care costs for family coverage, adjusted to reflect 1999 and multiplied by .061 to reflect CBO’s estimate of the effect of the Kennedy-Dingell Patients’ Bill of Rights on premiums.

CBO – Analysis of the Kennedy-Dingell Patients’ Bill of Rights as introduced estimates a 6.1% increase in premiums.

** The Lewin Group estimates that every 1% increase in premiums results in 300,000 uninsured.