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House OKs GOP Health Bill; Business Groups Pleased

The tragic shooting in the U.S. Capitol, July 24, overshadowed significant legislative action on health care taken just minutes earlier, and a few steps away in the House of Representatives. The chamber soundly rejected (by a 217-21 margin) the Administration-backed Patients' Bill of Rights. Then it narrowly adopted, 216-210, the rival Republican bill authored by Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R, Ill.)

Business groups hail the two actions. The Democratic bill, sponsored by Reps. John Dingell (D, Mich.) and Tom Daschle (D, S. Dak.), "would have raised costs and spawned countless new lawsuits, which are to health-care reform what gin is to a hangover," says National Assn. of Manufacturers' President Jerry Jasinowski. "The Republican bill is not nearly as bad."

Adds Dan Danner, vice president of the National Federation of Independent Business, "The Hastert approach promises to expand health coverage by allowing small firms to form association health plans. The other bill would have jacked up health costs and exposed employers to potentially ruinous lawsuits, forcing them to drop existing coverage altogether."

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