FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New CBO Analysis Confirms Fears That Dingell-Norwood Bill Will
4 Percent Increase Likely to Cause 1.2 Million More
Washington, DC, February 10, 2000 — Confirming employers’ fears
that the House-passed patients’ bill of rights would increase health care
costs, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today found the bill would
raise premiums by 4.1 percent, making the House version far more costly
than the Senate bill. Moreover, since experts say every one percent
increase in costs forces 300,000 people to lose their health insurance,
the House bill is likely to add 1.2 million more Americans to the ranks of
"This new CBO estimate should serve as a wake-up call for any member of
Congress lulled into thinking the House-passed patients’ bill of rights is
good for consumers," said Dan Danner, chairman of the Health Benefits
Coalition. "Passing such a bill would add to already rising health care
costs and force many families to forego the health care coverage they
need," said Danner.
While higher health care costs would have a significant impact on
employers’ ability to voluntarily provide health benefits to their
employees, more devastating is the risk of financial ruin businesses would
face if Congress expands health care lawsuits. Under the House-passed
bill, employers as well as health plans would be liable. As a result,
employers could face bankruptcy from a single court case, leaving their
workers without health insurance or a job. More than one-third of
employers would probably cut health benefits due to liability fears
according to a recent study by Hewitt Associates.
The CBO analysis follows on the heels of recent reports that both
health care costs and the number of uninsured Americans continue to rise.
According to a study by Mercer, Inc., employers this year are facing a
predicted 7.3 percent increase in health care costs. Small business are
struggling with even higher projected health care cost increases of
between 20 to 30 percent.
"We have repeatedly warned Congress against passing a patients’ bill of
rights that would raise costs for employers and families and add to the
number of uninsured Americans. Only in Washington would such legislation
be considered a ‘patient protection’ bill," said Danner.
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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