Focus Point - Congress and Health

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The house and senate are getting ready to hash out differences in their versions of the patients' bill of rights. Frankly, most of this legislation is going to wind up being costly and unnecessary, as work by the NCPA and others has shown, but if I have to live with one version, give me the one from the house, as research by the Employment Policy Foundation proves.

The senate bill, passed in June, features the unrestricted right to sue and high punitive damages. The pending house version encourages voluntary dispute resolution.

The senate version could add up to $16 billion a year to health care costs. The ricochet effect could mean employers would drop another nine million employees from health care coverage by 2010.

The bi-partisan house bill, would, among other things eliminate class action lawsuits, require exhaustion of all administrative remedies before a lawsuit can be filed, and cap non-economic damages. It's all legislation driven by politics, but the house version, at least, is less destructive.

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