The Patient Access to Responsible Care Act of 1997: How Much Will It Cost?

June 1998, Vol. 19, No. 6
Paperback, 12 pp.
PDF, 56 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 1998

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Executive Summary

The Patient Access to Responsible Care Act of 1997: How Much Will It Cost?—The Patient Access to Responsible Care Act of 1997 (PARCA) (S. 644/ H.R. 1415) is a
comprehensive measure that would add consumer protections and expand liability for all
employment-based health plans, although some provisions would only apply to managed care
plans. Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) introduced PARCA in the House and Sen. Alfonse D'Amato
(R-NY) in the Senate. The legislation has broad bipartisan support in the House, with 223
cosponsors as of April 23, 1998. In the Senate, on the other hand, it has minimal support
with only four cosponsors.

Despite the broad bipartisan support for PARCA, the legislation has generated a heated
debate between advocates and opponents over the increased costs associated with the bill.
A report released in 1997 estimates that PARCA would increase health insurance premiums by
between 7 percent and 39 percent. Another report released in early 1998 estimates that it
would increase health insurance premiums by between 0.7 percent and 2.6 percent. These
analyses reach different conclusions largely because they are based on different
assumptions about the legislation's impact. The assumptions differ in large part because
of their interpretation of the legislative language. This article summarizes PARCA's
consumer protection and expanded liability provisions and examines the studies that have
estimated its cost impact.