RIGHT TO SUE: Law Would Lead to Coverage Cuts at Large Firms
About 36% of 600 large U.S. employers said in a recent survey that they would cut off health benefits to their employees if Congress passes a law giving patients the right to sue their health plans, apparently fearing that such legislation would make them vulnerable to similar suits. Industry experts, noting that high costs are already encouraging some companies to re-evaluate their benefits packages, said the increased liability would give employers "one more reason" to stop providing coverage. The poll, conducted by the management consulting firm Hewitt Associates in September, also found employers have serious concerns about managed care organizations (AP/Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 1/20).
Employer concerns aside, 72% of voters favor right-to-sue legislation, with only 17% opposed, according to a new poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. But only 53% of the 1,257 voters surveyed supported such legislation if it meant annual premiums would rise by $200 for a typical family, with 31% opposed (Gullo, Associated Press, 1/19).