Lawmakers debate health insurance

Tuesday, March 11th 2008, 5:22 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

There's a debate among lawmakers when it comes to health insurance issues.

Lawmakers at the capitol are deciding on House Bill 3111 that could put the brakes on potentially expensive insurance mandates.

"When I first came to the legislature, we would have maybe one or two mandates every few years," said Rep. Ron Peterson. "Now we have over a half a dozen mandates that I've talked to people about just in this last year."

If it's passed, House Bill 3111 would require a cost-benefit analysis and a one year wait before any insurance mandate is voted on.

Sen. Jay Paul Gumm is the author of Nick's Law, named for a young boy with autism whose family can hardly pay for his therapies. If Nick's law makes it through this session now as an amendment to another bill, it would require private insurance companies to cover autism therapies.

"These are parents who are paying for health insurance and expect to be able to depend on health insurance only to be told, because it's autism 'we can't help you,'" Gumm said. "I think that's fundamentally wrong."

Stephanie's law is similar, named for a young brain cancer patient whose family was hit hard with medical bills. It's another mandate that could require private insurance companies to pay for routine care for patients taking part in clinical trials.

"My fear is we are on a death spiral of ever increasing costs and we are going to have more people drop off the insure rolls and therefore premiums go up even higher," Peterson said.

Peterson also said House Bill 3111 doesn't say no to mandates, it's just a more balanced approach. The bill would allow for the weighing of fiscal and social impacts before the vote.

Steffanie's law has made it out of committee. It is expected to be voted on the Senate floor Wednesday.

An amendment to Nick's law passed the Senate Monday; it will now go to the House for approval.