NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

"Patients' Rights" Analyzed

June 8, 2000

Critics say President Clinton's proposed "patients' bill of rights" will do more for lawyers than for consumers, because it will heap federal regulations on health care companies that are typically regulated by states.

There are other dangers as well.

  • The legislation will expose self-insured companies -- whose health plans fall under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) -- to lawsuits in state courts.
  • That threat could drive employers away from providing health insurance to their employees.
  • A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll found that 25 percent of employers responding would drop insurance if faced with that threat.
  • Forty percent said they would make contributions to employees' health-care plans -- but they would no longer serve as purchasing agents.

Referring to employers, Greg Scandlen of the National Center for Policy Analysis says they are "tired of being the monkey in the middle."

Companies are likely to move in the direction of defined contribution health plans to escape the approaching ominous regulations and threats of lawsuits. That would entail vouchers for health care that individuals would use to purchase a plan that suits their needs. In fact, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, 60 percent of employers expect to move to a defined contributions plan by 2010.

Source: Sally C. Pipes (Pacific Research Institute), "New Bill of Debts: Consumers Suffer from Clinton Plan to Protect Patients," Investor's Business Daily, June 8, 2000.


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