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Graphic Arts Community Urged to Still Weigh In on Patients Bill of Rights Issue

Press release from the issuing company

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA (August 10, 2001) – Despite a compromise between President George W. Bush and Representative Charlie Norwood that gave way to the House of Representatives’ passage of the Patients Bill of Rights (PBOR), the Printing Industries of America (PIA), Incorporated, remains concerned the proposed legislation opens employers up to liability. PIA is a member of the Health Benefits Coalition (HBC) and jointly opposes health-care reform that hinders employers’ ability to provide affordable health benefits to their employees. PBOR now moves onto a joint House and Senate conference committee, which will convene after the August Congressional recess. During this time, PIA is urging its members to contact their legislators by e-mail by visiting the portal to the graphic arts industry, www.gain.net, and clicking on the government affairs hot button. "We [PIA] still have great deal of concern about the Patients Bill of Rights," said Ben Cooper, PIA senior vice president of government affairs. "Even though the compromise bill reduces employer liability, the potential for employer liability is still too high and that makes bad business sense for PIA members voluntarily offering health benefits to their employees." After months of negotiations, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2563, a limited version of PBOR by a vote of 226 to 203. The compromise version worked out between President Bush and Norwood (R-Georgia) is an improvement from the bill that recently passed the Senate and was due for consideration in the House. Although PIA has concerns with many of the provisions in the bill, the final passed version is much better than the alternative and at least has more limits on lawsuits and lower caps on possible damage awards. However, according to the HBC, there are parts of the PBOR that are still cause for concern, including the following: * "It still allows lawsuits in state courts with the potential for 50 different, inconsistent and conflicting interpretations of federal law; * "It still allows too high a cap on damage awards in both federal and state courts, and allows for punitive damages against a health plan, even when there is no evidence of bad faith; * "It still contains a number of considerable excesses that need to be curbed, including a gratuitous hand-out to trial lawyers that allows health plans to be sued even if an independent medical review agrees with the plan’s claim decision;" and, * "It still gives independent reviewers the unprecedented authority to override contracts between employers and health plans for employee health care coverage – authority not even granted to judges." The HBC is a broad-based organization representing three million employers providing health care coverage to their employees and families. The coalition believes affordable, quality health care is best achieved through broader coverage, choice and competition in the marketplace – not government regulations.

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