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JUNE 24, 1999  3:11 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
American Small Business Alliance
Joel Marks of the American Small Business Alliance, 202-337-0037
ASBA to NFIB: 'Whose Side Are You On? Small Business' or the Insurance Industry's?'
 
WASHINGTON - June 24 - The American Small Business Alliance today called on the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) to explain how that organization -- in billing itself as the "voice of small business" -- can go against the wishes of the vast majority of small business executives by opposing the Patient's Bill of Rights. Polling data shows overwhelming support in the small business community for the provisions in the legislation.

"Again and again and again, the NFIB is carrying the insurance industry's water, while compromising the interests of small business," said ASBA Executive Director Joel Marks. "The natural question is: Who is the NFIB fighting for?"

Marks noted that a national poll conducted last year by the ASBA Education Fund (ASBAEF), in conjunction with the Kaiser-Harvard Program on Health Policy, showed small business executives clearly want the provisions found in the Patients' Bill of Rights, are willing to pay for them, won't drop coverage even if they lead to higher premiums, and reject the idea that these protections lead to too much government involvement in health care.

For instance, 89 percent of small business executives surveyed support a law requiring greater disclosure of health plan information, 88 percent support an independent appeals process for denied claims, and 75 percent support the right to see a specialist without prior approval. On the issue of liability, 61 percent of small business executives favored giving people the right to sue their health plan, with 51 percent still showing support if such a measure would lead to higher premiums. Sixty-six percent favor this measure to "ensure people get the care they need," while only 25 percent oppose granting the right to sue as "unnecessary government involvement in health care."

"I'm accountable to my clients, my vendors and my employees," said ASBA member Charles Lauster, president of Christidis Lauster Radu Architects in New York. "Why wouldn't the NFIB want health insurers to be accountable, too?"

Marks also called the NFIB/insurance industry claim that the Patient's Bill of Rights somehow would allow individual small businesses to be sued "a scare tactic" just like their assertion that such a law would lead to millions of people losing their health coverage. The Kaiser-Harvard/ASBAEF health care survey showed that fewer than 1 percent of small business executives might drop coverage if rates go up as predicted.

ASBA member Tom Reed, owner of Lake Motors in Eagle Lake, Texas, said he views the minimal cost increase that may result from the Patient's Bill of Rights in terms of getting more bang for his buck. "My premiums go up now and I get nothing, or sometimes even less coverage. The Patient's Bill of Rights at least will give me something tangible, bringing me a better value for the health care money I spend," Reed said.

The American Small Business Alliance has stood out as the only small business organization in support of these sensible and popular reforms. The ASBA believes the Patient's Bill of Rights will benefit small businesses by making it easier to compare plans, by reducing the risk and complexity of buying insurance, by leveling the playing field with big business, and by giving employees a system that better responds to their needs and makes them healthier and more productive workers.

"Simply put, the Patient's Bill of Rights is good for small business and it's clearly something the small business community wants," Marks said. "Congress should take immediate action and pass this legislation as soon as possible."

To learn more about the ASBA's involvement with the Patient's Bill of Rights or to view the Kaiser-Harvard/ASBAEF poll, visit the ASBA Web site at www.asbanet.org.

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