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June 24, 1998

Council staff defend managed care in two national media briefings

Employers oppose new government intrusion into the health-care market because private-sector efforts have improved quality and held back the growth in health costs, Business Council staff told national journalists at two recent forums.

The Council was invited to speak on behalf of business at two New York City forums sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Press Foundation.

"Cost is the single biggest obstacle to better health care for tens of millions of Americans," Robert Ward, director of research for The Public Policy Institute, told a forum on small employers views on proposed "consumer protection" measures.

More government-imposed costs and mandates will force employers to consider "defined contribution" health plans — in which employees are given cash to pay for health coverage, rather than company-paid health insurance — Ward said.

Ward is the author of Managing With Care, a new Institute report that shows how managed care is improving overall health-care quality while containing costs.

Diana A. Ehrlich, a legislative analyst at The Council, addressed a separate forum on a proposal before Congress to mandate coverage of contraceptives.

While many employer health plans cover contraceptives, another mandate will drive up costs and take decision-making power away from employers and employees, she said.