Today’s Health Care Check-Up: — September 10, 1999

In Case You Missed It…

Following are excerpts from an editorial in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal about the Dingell-Norwood health care bill:

"Dingell-Norwood is the name of the Congressional health battlefield of the moment. It’s flying under the banner of a bipartisan "patients’ rights" bill. We use "patients’ rights" advisedly because the popular bill isn’t really about patients’ rights. It’s about lawsuits.

"Dingell-Norwood would make a million lawsuits possible overnight, dumping into state courts all aspects of a health plan, right down to payment issues. The bill would also open the door to similar suits against employers. Given that every lawsuit would be over allegations of health care denied, we’re talking about a piece of legislation intended to put the plaintiffs lawyers in pig heaven. And they know it.

"If Dingell-Norwood ever made it out to the real world, its primary effect would be to produce premium increases as carriers pass along the costs of litigation to the employers who buy insurance for their workers. And when those premiums increase, the customers gradually stop buying health coverage.

"The destructive effects and cynical opportunism of these tort expansions is by now so obvious that one might expect Republicans to be happy for the opportunity to oppose them. But in fact, 21 Republican members of the House have signed on to Dingell-Norwood. This week, two Republican Congressmen, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John Shadegg of Arizona, are set to introduce another bill which also greatly expands liability, albeit in a different manner.

"Managed care, for all its growing pains, was a direct response to the health care system’s unacceptably destructive upward cost spiral. Dingell-Norwood would re-energize the spiral…"

Congress Should Heed the Wall Street Journal and

Oppose New Health Care Lawsuits.

They Won’t Improve Patient Care – But They Will Make Care Less Affordable and Less Available for Families.