WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 1999 -- The small business group NFIB today blasted passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of the managed care reform bill offered by U.S. Reps. Charles Norwood (10th Dist.-Ga.) and John Dingell (16th Dist.-Mich.).

"Those who voted to pass the Norwood-Dingell bill delivered a gift to the trial bar today -- and small businesses and their employees will be stuck with the tab," said Dan Danner, NFIB's vice president of federal public policy. "This legislation will drive up costs and, in turn, drive up the ranks of the uninsured." He pointed out that three out of every five Americans without health insurance are from families headed by someone who works in a small business.

Every 1 percent increase in cost adds an estimated 300,000 individuals to the ranks of the uninsured, who already top 44 million, Danner said. "This legislation drives up costs two ways: by new mandates and by inviting more lawsuits. Those small businesses that have been able to afford health insurance for their employees are already struggling to meet premium increases of more than 20 percent a year in some cases. They can't absorb the additional costs these new mandates will add. Nor will they be willing to risk being dragged into court just because they provide health insurance. Lawsuits cost small businesses an average of $100,000, even if the business is found innocent -- that's enough to put most small businesses right out of business. So the effect of this legislation is that fewer small businesses will be able to afford to provide health insurance. That means more Americans go without insurance."

"Just yesterday, the House passed a bill that offers tremendous help and hope to the 44.3 million Americans without health insurance. Yet today, they took a major step backward. As the health care debate continues in Washington, small business will continue to fight for a solution that addresses the real crisis in health care today: access and cost," Danner said.


The National Federation of Independent Business is the nation's largest small business advocacy group. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1943, NFIB represents the consensus views of its600,000 members in Washington and all 50 state capitals. More information is available online at www.nfib.com.

CONTACT: Mary Mead Crawford or Jean Hudson at 202.554.9000.