Issue: Health Care

ASBA Endorses Patient's Bill of Rights

Bipartisan McCain-Kennedy Bill Called 'Needed Remedy' for America's Small Businesses


WASHINGTON - The American Small Business Alliance (ASBA) is encouraging Congress to pass the Patient's Bill of Rights.

"This legislation is good for - and wanted by - America's small businesses," said ASBA Founder Joel Marks. Congress needs to stand up to the bullying tactics and misleading campaign waged by the insurance industry and old-line business lobbies and pass this important measure."

The ASBA 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 for them 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. The ASBA also strongly supported the bill's liability provision.

"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. "It seems only fair that health plans - those often making the life and death decisions - should be accountable, too."

Marks pointed out that a national poll conducted by the ASBA Education Fund, in conjunction with the Kaiser-Harvard Program on Health Policy, showed small business executives overwhelmingly favored each of the bill's main provisions, even when told it might increase the cost of insurance. Fewer than 1 percent of employers said they'd consider dropping coverage if these measures led to a rate increase. More than three-quarters rejected the idea that this is unnecessary government involvement in health
care, instead favoring each provision as a way to make sure people get the care they need. Even the bill's most controversial measure, allowing lawsuits against health plans, enjoyed 61 percent support among small business.

All along, small businesses like mine have seen the value in this legislation," said ASBA Member Alex Mann, president of Mann Consulting Multimedia in San Francisco. "With these new protections and improved quality of care - things small businesses certainly couldn't negotiate on their own - we're getting more bang for our health care dollars."

Marks added: "If Congress passes a strong, enforceable Patient's Bill of Rights, the pressure will be on President Bush to sign the bipartisan measure into law. Will he stand up for businesses and average Americans, or will he take the side of the special interests?"

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