Todd Irons
(202) 973-2927
Suzy DeFrancis
(202) 973-3610

Zogby Poll Shows 70% of Voters Support

Independent Review Over New Health Care Lawsuits

Majority of Voters Would Oppose Lawsuits if Employers Are at Risk

Washington, DC, May 25, 2000 — As House and Senate conferees work to resolve differences on the patients’ bill of rights, a new Zogby poll shows more than 70 percent of voters support a quick, independent review when care is denied over the ability to take health plans and employers to court. The survey also found that more than half of all voters would oppose the ability to sue HMOs if it means employers could be taken to court; and that high health care costs still rank as the top concern among voters. (Poll findings attached.)

"This Zogby poll confirms that when it comes to health care, voters want to see the inside of an examining room, not a courtroom," said Dan Danner, chairman of the Health Benefits Coalition. "The survey also shows the top concern of voters is the high cost of health care. Turning trial lawyers loose on the health care system would only increase those costs."

Specifically, the poll of 1,016 likely voters conducted May 10-13 found:

    • Seven out of 10 voters (71 percent) prefer a quick, independent review that is binding on an HMO over the ability to take HMOs and employers to court.
    • 55 percent of voters are unaware a provision in the patients’ bill of rights would allow businesses to be sued if employees had problems with their HMOs.
    • By a margin of more than three to one (54 percent to 15 percent) voters are less likely to support new health care lawsuits when they learn these lawsuits could bankrupt a business.
    • Nearly 40 percent of voters consider high health care costs the most important issues regarding health care (18 percent high treatment costs, 12 percent prescription drug costs, and 10 percent insurance costs).

Numerous legal studies have confirmed provisions to allow new lawsuits against HMOs would also put employers at risk of lawsuits. A recent survey by Harris Interactive found nearly half (45 percent) of employers would drop health coverage for their employees rather than face such a risk. Even if employers are not sued directly, they will pay the indirect costs of new lawsuits. In many cases, these costs will be passed on directly to employees and families in the form of higher premiums.

(View Attachment)

# # #

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.