PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: AAHP Poll Says Bill Threatens Coverage
If Congress approves a patients' bill of rights that allows employees to sue both their insurer and their employer over coverage decisions, that bill would prompt less than half of employers to drop coverage, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Conducted Jan. 4-17 for the American Association of Health Plans, the poll found that 45% of the 400 human resource managers interviewed said the bill might cause their firms to reduce the number of employees offered coverage. If employees could sue employers, 62% said they would cut back retiree benefits. When asked the effect of the bill if it raised costs by $125 annually, 7% of respondents said their firms would drop coverage for some or all employees and 71% said their firms would probably pass increased costs on to employers. Over a third of the respondents said their firms would reduce coverage for retirees. Humphrey Taylor of Harris International said that including a provision that holds employers responsible for coverage decisions "has by far the biggest impact." AAHP President Karen Ignagni said, "Those in the House who voted for Norwood-Dingell did not think they were voting to put coverage at risk, but that may well be the unintended consequence of this legislation for the people they are charged with trying to protect." However, supporters of the Norwood-Dingell measure contend that the bill does not hold employers liable. A Norwood spokesperson said the poll's results were "in direct conflict with the results of other independent surveys over the last 90 days." The poll has a 5 point error margin (Rovner, CongressDaily, 2/2).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.