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February 9, 2000

Chamber Advocates Expanding Health Care Coverage Instead of Expanding Liability

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 10, 2000 – The United States Chamber of Commerce today warned Congress that American workers want and need expanded access to health care coverage and greater benefits, not expanded access to attorneys and courtrooms.

“It’s simple health care economics 101: lawsuits equal higher costs, which equals less coverage,” said Bruce Josten, Chamber executive vice president. “Three out of four workers now receive health care coverage through their jobs, but new government mandates and expanded liability risks will make doing so increasingly cost prohibitive.”

The cost of providing health insurance is a significant expense for employers. As costs rise, companies scale back or even drop coverage or require employees to contribute a larger portion of the cost. And, as employees’ costs rise, overall participation declines, raising the number of uninsured and raising the cost for those who remain.

The Chamber called for renewed focus on the real health care crisis: the record number of Americans without insurance coverage.

“Adding new government mandates and expanding the right to sue will not help the 44 million Americans without basic health care coverage,” said Josten. “Equalizing health insurance tax treatment for everyone, pooled purchasing under ERISA for small business employees and the self-employed, and expanding the use of medical savings accounts will all increase Americans’ access to health care coverage and are all urgently needed . . . more lawsuits are not.”

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