Chafee HMO Bill Called 'No Compromise'

Sen. John Chafee (R, R.I.) and six cosponsors have introduced a bipartisan bill that is the latest proposal in a growing list of measures aimed at reforming the managed health-care system. Called the "Promoting Responsible Managed Care Act of 1999," the legislation is similar to Chafee's bill of last year. Its sponsors say it takes a "middle ground" position. "If compromise is about meeting halfway, this bill is about as far from a compromise as you can get," criticizes Neil Trautwein, health-care lobbyist at the National Assn. of Manufacturers. "The Chafee legislation is little more than a slightly pale imitation of the Democrats' Patients' Bill of Rights, that includes nearly all of its mandates and legal landmines while incorporating no provisions addressing the affordability of health coverage." Although one other Republican (Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter) is among the Chafee bill's cosponsors, most GOP Senators are thought to be backing a third reform measure introduced by Majority Whip Don Nickles (R, Okla.). Many business groups are troubled, though, that even the Nickles bill calls for increased regulation.

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