Focus Point - Bill of Wrongs

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. President Clinton's proposed "Patients' Bill Of Rights" is strangely named. According to a study by the Pacific Research Institute, it's really a lawyers' bill of rights -- because of all the federal regulations that will be dumped on health care companies.

For one thing, self-insured companies -- whose health plans fall under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) -- will be exposed to lawsuits in state courts, which they are not today, and that threat could drive employers away from providing health insurance to their employees. In fact, a recent U.S. Chamber Of Commerce poll found that 25 percent of employers responding would drop insurance if faced with that threat.

So companies are likely to move in the direction of Defined Contribution Health Plans, giving vouchers for health care that individuals would use to purchase a plan that suits their needs. That way, companies can avoid the approaching litigation. According to one survey, 60 percent of employers could move to a Defined Contributions Plan by 2010.

Now that really would be patient power, just a very different kind from which Mr. Clinton has in mind.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, survivor.