Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bad Medicine-S.1955

Thirty-nine state attorneys general have urged U.S. Senators to oppose S. 1955
a bill that would dramatically change the health insurance marketplace by preempting state-mandated benefit coverage, gutting important state consumer protections and permitting insurance carriers to sue states that do not adopt the new federal standards.
[Illinois AG Lisa] Madigan said that while the bill was allegedly designed to help small businesses provide some form of health insurance to their employees, the bill actually would allow all types of insurance plans (individual, small group and large group) to offer bare-bones policies that do not include services that Illinois law currently requires, such as mammograms and other types of cancer screening, supplies necessary for diabetes management, access to specialists, care for newborns and adopted children, mental health treatment and other important healthcare safeguards.

According to Madigan, the bill would also preempt important state protections against unfair claims handling practices, potentially eliminating the right of Illinois HMO beneficiaries to an external, third-party review of a claim denial. Without these important protections, consumers would lose meaningful rights to contest unwarranted denials of insurance coverage and might not obtain benefits to which they are entitled.
I do have a personal interest here. I am a member of the American Optometric Association, which strongly opposes this bill. This bill would preempt states' "any willing provider" laws, which would limit the public's access to healthcare services.

This bill would be a gift to insurance companies. It would wipe out state laws that have been enacted to protect the public. S. 1955 is a Republican bill that would expand the power of the federal government at the expense of states' rights. Huh.

I urge everyone to contact their Senators and tell them to oppose S. 1955. It's a bad bill for healthcare consumers, and it could come to the Senate floor this week.