Health Benefits Coalition Resumes Ad Campaign Against Patients’ Rights Legislation
The Health Benefits Coalition -- a group of employers, insurance companies and business executives -- has resumed advertisements urging Congress not to pass patients' rights legislation, CongressDaily reports. The advertisements, which have been running in CongressDaily and "other Washington news outlets," say, "Kennedy Patients' Bill of Rights: Bad for the economy, Bad for employees. Bad idea." According to CongressDaily, HBC members contend that "now is the worst time" to pass patients' rights laws, because it will "increase costs at a time when the economy is slow." Bruce Josten, executive vice president for consumer affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, "The 'Patients' Bill of Rights' will undermine all our efforts to control cost and expand coverage." Despite HBC's campaign, President Bush is expected to ask for passage of a patients' rights bill in his State of the Union address next week, CongressDaily reports. According to CongressDaily, the HBC spent $1 million on advertising last year, and a spokesperson for the coalition said they would "evaluate whether to spend more this year" (Fulton, CongressDaily, 1/24).
At an HBC press conference announcing its plans to oppose the legislation, members of the HBC made statements against it that "were among the bluntest ever in public," the Hartford Courant reports. "If patients' rights legislation containing mostly mandates and new lawsuits became law today, it would break the backs of employers and workers alike. Now is the worst time for a Patients' Bill of Rights," Dan Danner, chair of the HBC, said. Danner added that his coalition's "objective" is to prevent any type of patients' rights legislation. According to the Courant, advocates for the legislation "disputed the coalition's contentions," and said it would not dissuade them from working for a new law. "It's a bargain compared to all the other (health care) cost increases," Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a consumer group, said (MacDonald, Hartford Courant, 1/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.