WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 1999 -- The small business group NFIB today announced that members of Congress who vote in favor of the managed care reform bill offered by U.S. Reps. Charles Norwood (10th Dist.-Ga.) and John Dingell (16th Dist.-Mich.)will be held accountable by small business. Any votes to support Norwood-Dingell will be considered a vote against small business.

"The Norwood/Dingell bill does nothing to address the problem of the uninsured -- three out of five of whom are small business owners or have a family head who is employed by a small firm -- and everything to ensure that their ranks will, in fact, increase," said NFIB Vice President Dan Danner. "Mandating health benefits and opening employers to liability is the last thing we need when it comes to health care reform. The real crisis in health care is whether you have health insurance at all... and 44.3 million Americans don't," Danner continued.

The bill contains both mandates on health benefits and an expansion of liability to insurance companies and employers when patients are dissatisfied with coverage and treatment decisions. Both provisions, Danner says, will increase the cost of health insurance dramatically. "For every 1percent increase in the cost of premiums, as many as 300,000 people lose their coverage. That fact makes Norwood-Dingell a poisonous bill that has been sugar-coated in misleading rhetoric."

NFIB has designated H.R. 2723, The Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act, as a "key vote," positioning it among those the organization will count in determining which members of Congress earn its coveted "Guardian of Small Business" award.

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 its 600,000 members in Washington and all 50 state capitals. More information is available online at www.nfib.com.

CONTACT: Mary Mead Crawford or Jim Weidman at 202.554.9000.