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New CBO Analysis Confirms Fears That Dingell-Norwood Bill Will Hike Costs

4 Percent Increase Likely to Cause 1.2 Million More Uninsured

Washington, DC, February 10, 2000Confirming 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 the uninsured.

"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 mandates.