Response To Senate GOP "Patients' Bill Of Rights Act"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Richard Coorsh

(202) 824-1787

mailto:rcoorsh@hiaa.org


The following statement was released today by Chip Kahn, President of the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA).

An estimated 43.5 million people in the United States currently have no health insurance. That number is expected to grow to at least 53 million by the year 2007 unless Congress and the President act responsively and responsibly. Unfortunately, taken as a whole, the so-called "patient protection" legislation introduced last Friday by Senate Republicans actually would harm consumers by increasing the cost of health insurance and increasing the number of uninsured.

For example, the bill would deprive consumers of less expensive, in-network coverage by mandating health plans and private businesses that sponsor coverage to provide an independent, third-party process to review complaints and grievances. Additionally, its overly broad definition of genetic information would punish consumers who have been faithfully paying their health insurance premiums in order to benefit people who wait until they became ill before buying coverage. These federal price controls and "guarantee issue" requirements are guaranteed only to raise consumers' insurance premiums.

To its credit, the Senate Republican bill provides a 100 percent tax deduction for self-employed individuals. HIAA and its member companies believe that allowing self-employed individuals a 100 percent tax deduction will make it much easier for people who currently do not have coverage to be able to afford it. Also, the Senate Republican bill wisely avoids expanding liability against health plans, which would lead directly to massive fees for lawyers and massive premium increases for consumers.

Nevertheless, the Senate Republican bill would increase federal regulation of the private health insurance industry, and increase consumers' costs in the process. For this reason, we cannot support it.

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