FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Suzy DeFrancis
Kaiser Survey Misreads Employers' Opposition to the Expanded Right to
Washington, DC, October 28, 1999 - The Kaiser Family
Foundation's release today of its annual employer health benefits survey
badly misreads the overwhelming opposition America's employers have with
proposals to expand the right to sue.
The Kaiser survey does not ask if employers would still support a right
to sue if they knew it would increase costs and decrease coverage.
Previous Kaiser surveys have shown that support for a Patients' Bill of
Rights drops dramatically once its consequences are known (Kaiser Family
Foundation/Harvard Survey, January 1998 and April 1999). Also, the Kaiser
survey did not reveal that this right to sue could put employers at risk
of lawsuits - the key reason it is opposed by the employer community.
"Strangely, the Kaiser study is inconsistent with the level of
opposition being heard from employers toward expanding the right to sue,"
said Dan Danner, chairman of the Health Benefits Coalition. "Survey after
survey has shown employers oppose expanded liability because it will
increase costs, decrease coverage and subject employers themselves to
costly, open-ended lawsuits," said Danner. "In fact, the Kaiser survey
itself showed that an overwhelming 94 percent of employers would support
an independent review, a much greater number than would support the right
Various surveys have demonstrated employer opposition to expanding the
right to sue heath plans:
- A National Association of Manufacturers survey (February 1999)
showed 96 percent of their members view liability as a "great concern,"
and 38 percent would stop providing health coverage if the expanded
right to sue became law.
- A U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll (October 1999) showed 65 percent of
employers will terminate their health benefits programs if expanded
liability becomes law.
- A survey of 300 small business owners by Public Opinion Strategies
(February 1998) showed 57 percent of small employers would drop health
coverage for their employees if they were to be exposed to expanded
There is a disconnect in the Kaiser survey between expanded liability
and the higher costs that would surely result. Though Kaiser's survey
indicates support for expanded liability, it also shows 72 percent of
employers questioned are worried that health care costs will increase
faster than they can afford.
"There is a definite link between expanded liability and skyrocketing
health care costs. It is simply unbelievable that employers would be
concerned about rising health care costs but also support expanding the
right to sue," 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