FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACTS: Frank Coleman/ Andrea Hofelich
Monday, April 26, 1999
U.S. Chamber: Patients' Bill of Rights Will Increase Uninsured
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today said instead of
helping employees, the latest Kennedy-Dingell health care proposal will
accelerate the crisis of 43 million uninsured Americans while increasing
health care costs and lining lawyers’ pockets.
According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the "Patients’ Bill
of Rights," sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. John Dingell
(D-MI), would result in a premium increase of 6.1% over five years. CBO
also expected that businesses would have to deflect these higher costs by
dropping health insurance entirely, offering fewer benefits, or passing
the costs on to employees in the form of lower wages.
"Sadly, this bill does nothing to provide coverage for the 43 million
uninsured Americans. In fact, it will only accelerate the true health care
crisis in America," said Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice
A 1998 survey of Chamber members found that two out of three employers
would drop coverage if a liability provision were imposed on their health
plans. Additional studies have indicated that when health care costs
increase, so does the number of uninsured, which has jumped from 38
million to 43 million over the past six years.
"This bill does not improve the quality of care and will only raise
costs for businesses and threaten continued health coverage," said Josten.
"It even encourages drawn-out litigation and punitive damage awards. What
good is a patients’ bill of rights that doesn’t help patients, but
"When employers could lose their entire business in a multi-million
dollar judgment because they voluntarily offer health coverage, we would
have no choice but to recommend that employers stop sponsoring a health
"If bureaucrats really wanted to improve health coverage, they should
do so by correcting tax code biases and providing full deductions and
other tax incentives for all who purchase coverage – individuals, the
self-employed and business owners," said Josten.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business
federation, representing more than three million businesses and
organizations of every size, sector, and region.