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Norwood Tries to Revive Health Care Monster

New bill strives to bring PARCA and Kennedy-Dingell back to life
Statement by the Health Benefits Coalition

At a press conference today on Capitol Hill, Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) is expected to announce a 1999 version of his failed Patient Access to Responsible Care Act (PARCA). This bill incorporates the worst measures of PARCA and the Kennedy-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights

Washington, DC, January 7, 1999 - Beating the Democrats to the punch, Representative Charlie Norwood today will announce a new bill - the "Access to Quality Care Act" - which is another attempt to revive a scary combination of his ill-fated PARCA and the Democrats' Patients' Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, his latest revisions amount to little more than last year's Democratic bill in Republican clothing.

"It is not surprising that Mr. Norwood would try again to re-write a bill that he referred to repeatedly last year as a 'work in progress.' But as his latest attempt proves, big government mandates are the wrong prescription for health care-no matter how they are written," stated Dan Danner, chairman of the Health Benefits Coalition.

While claiming to "protect" patients, both PARCA and the Kennedy-Dingell bill would have left millions of Americans "unprotected" by driving up health care costs and forcing millions of Americans to lose their health care coverage entirely. The Kennedy bill was the most costly government health care bill introduced since the Clinton health care plan. Congressman Norwood's new bill will have an equally devastating impact on working families and is full of big government health care mandates.

A 1998 Barents Group study showed that the expanded liability provision alone - included in Norwood's new bill - is estimated to increase premiums by 8.6% and force nearly two million more people to lose their health coverage.

Representative Norwood claims that his revisions exempt employers from liability for medical decisions. But the only way employers can escape liability under his bill is to give up any responsibility for benefit decisions affecting their employees. Even if his bill could effectively shelter employers from lawsuits and direct liability-which his proposal does not accomplish-the costs of expanded liability would still be passed on to employers, employees and their families. With premiums already on the rise, the additional costs of liability would force many employers-particularly small businesses-to drop coverage entirely.

The Health Benefits Coalition urges Congress not to be fooled by Norwood's latest bill and to oppose all legislation that increases costs and decreases coverage for hard working American families.

The coalition, which was very active in opposing health care mandates in the 105th Congress, has pledged to continue its efforts in the 106th beginning with new advertising that is running in today's Roll Call. The ad calls on Congress to 'First do no harm' by opposing any health care legislation that would increase costs and force millions more Americans into the ranks of the uninsured - something the Norwood bill would surely do. (A copy of the ad is attached.)


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.