Contacts:Todd Irons
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Suzy DeFrancis
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"Patients’ Bill of Rights" or "Lawyer’s Right to Bill?"

New Ad Campaign Warns that Trial Lawyers Would Benefit Most from Expanded "Right" to Sue

Washington, DC, January 24, 2000 — As the House and Senate return to Washington and the president prepares his State of the Union address, the Health Benefits Coalition announced today new radio and print advertising to warn Congress and President Clinton that trial lawyers, not patients, would benefit most from the "right" to sue provision in the Dingell-Norwood "Patients’ Bill of Rights." (Ads attached.)

"If Congress passes an expanded ‘right’ to sue at a time when trial lawyers already have their sights set on America’s health care system, it would put the whole employer-based health care system on trial and price health care out of the reach of millions of Americans," said Dan Danner, chairman of the Health Benefits Coalition. Trial lawyers have recently filed numerous class-action suits against health plans under a law originally intended for organized crime. They are also sponsoring seminars explaining how to sue health plans under state laws.

But expanding the "right" to sue health plans will also subject employers to costly malpractice lawsuits, according to numerous legal studies. This may force many employers to stop offering health benefits to their workers. Recent employer surveys show more than one-third of large employers (Hewitt, 1/00) and two-thirds of small employers (U.S. Chamber, 10/99) may stop offering health coverage altogether.

Studies show health care costs will go up an average of 7.3 percent this year, compared to 6.2 percent last year. For small businesses these increases are in the range of 20 to 30 percent. If a right-to-sue provision becomes law, health care costs will rise even more as health plans and employers must increase premiums to factor in the threat of a potential lawsuit.

The coalition’s radio ad features an "Elmer Gantry"-like character urging his fellow trial lawyers to launch an assault on the health care industry, turning the "Patients’ Bill of Rights" into a "Lawyer’s Right to Bill."

"Trial lawyers are champing at the bit for Congress to give them an expanded ‘right’ to sue, but American families will end up paying the price," 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 mandates.