U.S. HOUSE INTRODUCES COMPANION BILL TO ABOLISH HEALTH INSURANCE DISCRIMINATION.


Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (April 10, 2003) as a Companion measure to S. 423 (February 14, 2003) which will end health insurance discrimination by prohibiting insurance carriers from refusing to provide benefits to those injured while motorcycling or participating in other so-called "risky" recreational activities.

HR 1749, the "Health Care Parity for Legal Transportation and Recreational
Activities Act of 2003," is sponsored by Representatives Scott McInnis, a
Republican from Colorado, and Democrat Ted Strictland from Ohio, and was introduced with 51 original co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.

According to Congressman Rick Renzi (AZ District 1 - R), a co-sponsor of the legislation, the issue is not whether benefits are received but whether benefits will be denied. HR 1749 affects motorcyclists and others seeking recreational outlets, who already have health insurance. Under HIPAA, employers can not discriminate and deny access to health insurance. However, through a recent rulemaking under HIPAA the health insurance industry can deny benefits to these individuals for injuries sustained while engaged in recreational activities; especially those deemed to have a high risk of injury. HR 1749 will prohibit these "source of injury exclusions" from being applied to those insured. Insured motorcyclists in Arizona will know that they will have health insurance benefits whether they fall down walking home from work or riding on their motorcycle.

The rationale for this initiative follows: Millions of Americans suffer from ailments linked to obesity. The antithesis of this lifestyle is being active. This rulemaking punishes those individuals for being active. And in states like Arizona which rely so heavily on recreation on public lands, whether it's hiking, biking, or motorcycling, this rule, if taken advantage of, could be devastating. Individuals who have these sources of injury excluded in their health insurance coverage will think twice about taking that hike, riding that horse on a trail, or hitting the open road on their bike.

The language of HR 1749 is identical to that contained in S. 423, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), and states in part that "a plan or issuer may not deny benefits otherwise provided for the treatment of any injury solely because such injury resulted from participation of the participant or beneficiary in an activity such as motorcycling, snowmobiling, all-terrain vehicle riding, horseback riding, skiing or other similar legal activity."

Both bills aim to promote health care parity for participants in legal Transportation and recreational activities, and address a loophole created when the Department of Health and Human Services ruled that employers cannot deny health care coverage to motorcyclists and participants in other risky activities, yet insurers can deny benefits to those who are injured while participating in those activities.

It is worth the time for every reader of "Cyclerides.com" to contact their U.S. Senator and/or Representative and let them know of your support for this legislation. Senators can be contacted at www.senate.gov and Representatives can be contacted at www.house.gov. Drop them a note!

Go to http://thomas.loc.gov/ and type in HR1749 or S423 <search> for full details on this Bill.

Please feel free to send us legislative comments, inquiries, concerns, or issues that you feel might infringe upon the rights and freedom of motorcycle enthusiasts throughout Arizona and we will spread the word and act upon them on your behalf.

Stan
sjd3@cox.net