PN steps up efforts to nix new patients' bill of rights

WASHINGTON: Porter Novelli has begun to feel the aftershocks of the

power shift in the US Senate, as it finds itself faced with the

now-imminent vote on a patients' bill of rights. The Health Benefits

Coalition (HBC), a PN client for the past three years, is the primary

force advocating against the legislation.

The Senate came under Democratic control two weeks ago following


Jim Jeffords' departure from the GOP. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), the new

majority leader, has announced his intention to bring a patients' bill

of rights to the floor quickly - something that was not previously on

the agenda.

HBC, a coalition representing 32 organizations such as the Business

Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of

Manufacturers, is opposed to the bill on the grounds that by giving

employees the power to sue their HMOs, premiums will rise and employers

will be forced to foot the bill.

Suzy Defrancis, SVP and director of public affairs at PN, said the

agency has been forced to ramp up its efforts to prepare for the coming


"We've added more people to the account," she said, and cited activities

including gathering the results of new polling data; launching a print,

radio and TV ad campaign; producing briefing books, position papers and

material to go to the Hill; and holding a press briefing next week.

HBC was formed in 1998 and has retained PN as its public affairs agency

ever since.

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