(Washington, DC) –Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (WA-05) voted on key legislation last week that will help ensure access to quality health care for small businesses by reducing medical malpractice suits and making it easier for small business to provide health insurance.
On Wednesday the House passed H.R. 525 the Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R. 525). The bill significantly expands access to health coverage for many of the 45 million Americans who are uninsured. The bill allows small businesses to band together through association health plans (AHPs) and purchase quality health care at a lower cost for their workers. McMorris is a member of the Education and Workforce Committee and helped pass this legislation in committee.
“One of my top priorities is to make sure individuals and small businesses have access to quality, affordable health care,” said McMorris. “The number of Americans without health insurance is one of the biggest concerns in health care today. Many small business owners can’t afford to provide health insurance to works because of rising premium costs.”
AHPs will make health insurance more affordable for small business through reduced premiums. Congressional Budget Office has estimated that small businesses obtaining insurance through AHPs should experience premium reductions of 13% on average and up to 25%.
“I believe that small businesses are the main economic driver in our region and country. This bill will allow small businesses to enjoy greater bargaining power, economies of scale, and administrative efficiencies.”
Last week the House also passed H.R. 5: The Health Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Health Care (HEALTH) Act of 2005. The bill addresses the need for medical liability reform due to sky-rocketing medical liability costs. The Health Act places a limit of three years that a plaintiff may file a health care liability action. It also ensures that a party will only be liable for their own share of the damages and places reasonable limits on punitive damages to make the punishment fit the offense.
McMorris, a co-sponsor of the bill, spoke on the House floor in favor of the Health Act, detailing how increased medical liability insurance costs are creating a health care personnel shortage in Eastern Washington.
“I have heard from desperate doctors and health care providers that frivolous lawsuits are increasing costs to patient and driving doctors out of businesses. In areas such as Odessa, Republic and Davenport, there are no OB-GYNs and pregnant women must travel over an hour for care. It is also becoming impossible to recruit and retain specialists such as neurosurgeons and cardiologists. This is unacceptable for 21st Century health care.
“The Health Act will bring common sense reform to outrageous liability rates and will protect patients’ access to quality affordable health care. It is critical that we stop America’s run-away medial malpractice premiums and protect health care for our citizens.”
These bills will now go to the US Senate for consideration.