06/2001: State Legislative Update
A revised version of the high-risk health insurance bill (HB 2589) passed the House by a wide margin. Funding for the plan requires an insurance premium between 100 and 150 percent of the average price of an individual insurance policy and $3.4 million from the general fund for years 2001-2002 and 2002-2003.
The plan is now termed an “experiment” and becomes effective December 31, 2001. The plan is exempt from any state-imposed health insurance mandates.
Passage in the Senate may be more troublesome, since Senator Susan Gerard sits as chair of the Banking and Insurance Committee. While serving in the House, Gerard was an opponent of high-risk pooling.
Two measure that address expanding access to private long-term care insurance are pending before the legislature. Both bills provide for a tax credit equal to the amount of the premium.
HB 1319, which enhances Cover Colorado—the high-risk health insurance plan used as the HIPAA alternative mechanism to federal regulation—passed the House 64-0.The bill is headed for the Senate, where it is likely to pass.
The Insurance and Banking Committee has heard several bills that would exempt from the home health care mandate high-deductible insurance issued in conjunction with a medical savings account. Surprising support for passage came from Rep. Roberta Willis, a liberal Democrat. She changed her position after constituents asked her to support the bill.
It is likely that at least one of the bills will make it out of committee. Passage by the full house, however, appears much less certain at this time.
Connecticut legislators are also addressing long-term care. Two bills currently pending in the House are designed to increase access to market-based long-term care insurance (LTC). HB 5142 would require municipalities to offer group LTC to employees. SB 5 would create a state tax credit for LTC insurance premiums.
HB 97 would create a long-term care tax credit in the state. The measure is pending in the House Committee on Revenue and Finance.
Prospects are good for a re-opening of the state’s high-risk health insurance pool. SB 1208 would open the pool, which has been closed to new enrollments for several years, with a new funding mechanism.
The House Committee on Revenue heard HB 159, introduced by Rep. Carolyn Krause. Her measure would create a tax credit for employers providing long-term care insurance to employees.
HB 606, another LTC measure, has been referred to the House Committee on Rules and the House Committee on Revenue. The bill provides for a tax credit equal to 15 percent of the premium cost for a qualified long-term care insurance policy. The credit is capped at $200 for each policy held by the taxpayer.
On the Senate side of the legislature, Senator William Peterson’s bill, SB 201, would amend the Illinois Tax Act and allow for a credit equal to 15 percent of the premium paid for a long-term care policy covering the taxpayer, the spouse, parent, or dependent.
State residents will get a tax break with HB 1674. The measure, which has passed the House, will provide an income tax deduction to any who pays the premium for a long-term care insurance for a spouse, parent, grandparent, step-parent, or step-grandparent. The tax credit will be for the full amount of the premium paid.
Two bills before the House Committee on Taxation would provide tax credits for premiums paid for private long-term care insurance.
When asked his opinion of so-called medical marijuana, Governor Jesse Ventura went on the record as saying, “To me, you’ve got a kid here with cancer. I don’t give a damn if he smokes a joint.”
The House committee responsible for data privacy issues passed HF 1406. The measure reinstates access, without family or guardian consent, to all medical records of women who die during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or within 12 months after live birth, death of the baby, or termination of pregnancy.
Minnesota policymakers also have taken up long-term care. HP 70 would restore full tax deductibility of employer-provided long-term care insurance benefits, so long as the policy complies with requirements set by the Department of Insurance.
The state House of Representatives voted to scrap the costly prescription drug tax credit in favor of a plan that would help those most in need. The new plan reportedly costs more than the one it replaces. A major flaw in the amendment prohibits private companies from participating. Senator Marvin Singleton has introduced an alternative plan that borrows heavily from the Bush Rx plan.
On long-term care, an LTC insurance option would be added to the state employee Consolidated Health Plan if SB 49 passes.
The Missouri legislature is also acting on high-risk pooling. Missouri was one of the few states to use the HIPAA fallback provision. A bill under consideration in the legislature, HB 646, would change that, allowing the use of the high-risk pool to comply with HIPAA. It remains to be seen if the bill can make it through the House in its present clean form. In the past, the House has consistently added rating restrictions and other anti-market amendments to any attempt at HIPAA compliance.
Legislation (AB 2791) in the pipeline would create an additional health plan to be offered in the individual and small group market. The plan would include coverage for hospitalization expenses, diagnostic testing, wellness benefits, mental health and substance abuse benefits, and physicians services. It would be sold on a guaranteed-issue basis and would be community-rated and guaranteed renewable.
No fewer than five long-term care tax incentive bills are waiting action in the state. The most generous is SB 3376, allowing residents a full deduction for the amount of the premium paid by the taxpayer.
Senator Bill Fisher has introduced a measure that would create an Advisory Committee on Medical Information Records to study the relationship between the federal privacy rules in HIPAA and any state-level information privacy measures. SB 104 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.
Four long-term care tax credit bills are pending. All would establish a state income tax credit that could be used in the year 2002 and thereafter.
Two long-term care tax credit bills are pending. HB 220 and SB 13 have been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, respectively.
Don’t tell anyone, but Tom Susman, director of the Public Employees Insurance Agency, is working with other states to create a multi-state buying pool to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Susman refused to specify which states are involved.
Sources: The Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI) and its member companies provided information for this State Legislative Update. Contact CAHI at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional material was provided by the National Association of Health Underwriters, http://nahu.org/government, http://bizjournals.com, and http://stateline.org.
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