Todd Irons
(202) 973-2927
Suzy DeFrancis
(202) 973-3610

Employees Warn of Consequences Dingell-Norwood-Kennedy Bill Would Have on Their Health Benefits

Congress Urged Not to Put Employer-Sponsored Health Care in Jeopardy

Washington, DC, September 26, 2000 — At a press conference today hosted by Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), a number of employees who receive health care coverage through their employers urged Congress to reject the Dingell-Norwood-Kennedy patients’ bill of rights, which if enacted would raise health care costs and subject employers to unlimited lawsuits, forcing many employers to scale back health benefits or drop health insurance altogether.

"Nearly 160 million Americans rely on their employer for their health insurance. The Dingell-Norwood-Kennedy bill puts the current health benefits of every one of them in jeopardy," said Dan Danner, Chairman of the Health Benefits Coalition. "Congress needs to realize that this bill could have serious unintended consequences on the very people it is intended to ‘protect:’ Hard-working Americans."

New, unlimited lawsuits and higher health care costs resulting from the Dingell-Norwood-Kennedy bill will force many employers to reevaluate the health benefits they currently provide their employees. Currently, health care costs are increasing by roughly 10 percent across the country, and have been rising as high as 30 percent for small employers. Consequently, at best employers will be forced to reduce the level of benefits their employees currently receive. At worst, employers will be forced to stop offering health care coverage to their employees altogether. It is estimated that if Dingell-Norwood-Kennedy passes 1.3 million more Americans would lose their insurance (Barents Group LLC, CBO) and join the ranks of America’s 45 million uninsured.

"Too many Americans stand to lose if Dingell-Norwood-Kennedy becomes law," said Danner. "If Congress wants to pass new patient protections, it needs to remember the best protection is having health insurance in the first place."

Speaking at the press conference were Terry Flaherty, an employee of Caterpillar, Inc., Michael Toohey, an employee of Ashland, Inc., and Veronica Montmarquet-Swelt, owner of Business Services of America.

# # #

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.