Originally created 02/23/98

Business panel uses radio ads to fight bill



WASHINGTON -- A business group determined to drive U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood and other conservative House members away from managed-care reform is hitting them on their home turf.

The Washington-based Small Business Survival Committee aired radio ads in seven congressional districts last week, including the Augusta-Aiken market, comparing a bill sponsored by Dr. Norwood, R-Ga., to President Clinton's ill-fated 1994 health-reform plan. The ads gave each House member's office number and urged listeners to let their congressman know that they oppose Dr. Norwood's Patient Access to Responsible Care Act.

The bill would establish patient protections guaranteeing Americans the right to seek emergency care without prior authorization, appeal adverse coverage decisions to an outside panel, choose doctors outside of their health plan's network and sue plan administrators for harm caused by medically negligent decisions.

The legislation has more than 220 co-sponsors, including 90 Republicans and more than 130 Democrats. Among its GOP supporters are some of the most conservative members of the House, like Reps. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bob Barr, R-Ga.

"These folks have been friends of small business, yet they are supporting a measure that would drastically increase costs for business," said Karen Kerrigan, the committee's president.

Business groups and insurance companies oppose Dr. Norwood's bill as an attempt to impose expensive new government regulations on an industry that should be left to market forces. Ms. Kerrigan said the ad campaign was launched to try to convince pro-market lawmakers to pull their names off of the measure, as Rep. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., did early this month.

"The heart and soul of their voting bloc is pro-family and small business, people who strongly believe the government's role should be limited," Ms. Kerrigan said.

John Stone, Dr. Norwood's spokesman, said the ads' comparison of the Norwood bill to the government-run health-care system envisioned by Mr. Clinton misses the mark.

"The bill doesn't have anything to do with `ClintonCare,"' Mr. Stone said. "These ads never address the real issue: Should people be able to choose their own doctor? ... That's all this bill is about."

The ads also ran in the Greenville-Spartanburg area district of Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., another cosponsor of the Norwood bill.

"I sense a real uneasiness among South Carolinians about the disappearing of choice," said Mr. Inglis, who is running for the Republican Senate nomination this year. "I see the Charlie Norwood bill as a sign saying that we want to get on a different track."

Ms. Kerrigan would not reveal the cost of the ad campaign. She said the committee will assess the impact of the ads this week and decide whether to continue running the ads.

BYLINE1:By Dave Williams

BYLINE2:Morris News Service

WASHINGTON -- A business group determined to drive U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood and other conservative House members away from managed-care reform is hitting them on their home turf.

The Washington-based Small Business Survival Committee aired radio ads in seven congressional districts last week, including the Augusta-Aiken market, comparing a bill sponsored by Dr. Norwood, R-Ga., to President Clinton's ill-fated 1994 health-reform plan. The ads gave each House member's office number and urged listeners to let their congressman know that they oppose Dr. Norwood's Patient Access to Responsible Care Act.

The bill would establish patient protections guaranteeing Americans the right to seek emergency care without prior authorization, appeal adverse coverage decisions to an outside panel, choose doctors outside of their health plan's network and sue plan administrators for harm caused by medically negligent decisions.

The legislation has more than 220 co-sponsors, including 90 Republicans and more than 130 Democrats. Among its GOP supporters are some of the most conservative members of the House, like Reps. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bob Barr, R-Ga.

"These folks have been friends of small business, yet they are supporting a measure that would drastically increase costs for business," said Karen Kerrigan, the committee's president.

Business groups and insurance companies oppose Dr. Norwood's bill as an attempt to impose expensive new government regulations on an industry that should be left to market forces. Ms. Kerrigan said the ad campaign was launched to try to convince pro-market lawmakers to pull their names off of the measure, as Rep. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., did early this month.

"The heart and soul of their voting bloc is pro-family and small business, people who strongly believe the government's role should be limited," Ms. Kerrigan said.

John Stone, Dr. Norwood's spokesman, said the ads' comparison of the Norwood bill to the government-run health-care system envisioned by Mr. Clinton misses the mark.

"The bill doesn't have anything to do with `ClintonCare,"' Mr. Stone said. "These ads never address the real issue: Should people be able to choose their own doctor? ... That's all this bill is about."

The ads also ran in the Greenville-Spartanburg area district of Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., another cosponsor of the Norwood bill.

"I sense a real uneasiness among South Carolinians about the disappearing of choice," said Mr. Inglis, who is running for the Republican Senate nomination this year. "I see the Charlie Norwood bill as a sign saying that we want to get on a different track."

Ms. Kerrigan would not reveal the cost of the ad campaign. She said the committee will assess the impact of the ads this week and decide whether to continue running the ads.