Legislature(1999 - 2000)

04/18/2000 02:04 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE                                                                           
                          April 18, 2000                                                                                        
                             2:04 p.m.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                              
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                              
Senator Jerry Mackie, Chairman                                                                                                  
Senator Tim Kelly, Vice Chairman                                                                                                
Senator Dave Donley                                                                                                             
Senator Loren Leman                                                                                                             
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
All Members Present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 121(L&C)                                                                                                  
"An Act relating  to patients' rights under a health  care insurance                                                            
plan  or   contract  providing   coverage   for  dental  care,   and                                                            
prohibiting  certain practices by  health care insurers relating  to                                                            
dental care."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     -MOVED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 303                                                                                                              
"An Act relating  to the method of  payment of fees and adoption  of                                                            
regulations  under AS 21; relating  to orders under AS 21  regarding                                                            
risk based  capital instructions;  relating to accounting  standards                                                            
for insurance  companies;  amending the  definitions of 'creditable                                                             
coverage'   and  'late   enrollees'   in  AS   21.54;  relating   to                                                            
requirements for  small employer insurers; relating  to requirements                                                            
for  issuance of  new voting  securities  by an  insurance  company;                                                            
requiring health care insurance  coverage for reconstructive surgery                                                            
following  mastectomy;  requiring  guaranteed  renewability  of  and                                                            
certification  of  coverage  regarding  certain   individual  health                                                            
insurance policies; and providing for an effective date."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     -MOVED SCSHB 303 (L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 422                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating  to workers'  compensation  benefits for  injuries                                                            
resulting  from  consumption   of  alcohol  or  use  of  drugs;  and                                                            
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     -MOVED SCSHB 422 (L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
HB 121 - No previous Senate action.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB 303 - No previous Senate action.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB 422 - No previous Senate action.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
Ms. Patty Swenson                                                                                                               
Staff to Representative Con Bunde                                                                                               
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK 99802-1182                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on CSHB 121.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Katie Campbell                                                                                                              
Actuary L/H                                                                                                                     
Division of Insurance                                                                                                           
Department of Community & Economic Development                                                                                  
P.O. Box 110805                                                                                                                 
Juneau, AK 99811-0805                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HB 303.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
Mr. Paul Grassi                                                                                                                 
Director of Division of Workers' Compensation                                                                                   
Department of Labor & Workforce Development                                                                                     
P.O. Box 25512                                                                                                                  
Juneau, AK 99802-5512                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HB 422.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr. William Walters                                                                                                             
Chief of Adjudications                                                                                                          
Division of Workers' Compensation                                                                                               
Department of Labor & Workforce Development                                                                                     
P.O. Box 107019                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, AK 99510-7019                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HB 422.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
TAPE 00-16, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 001                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MACKIE called the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee                                                                  
meeting to order at 2:04 p.m.  Present were Senators Hoffman,                                                                   
Leman, T. Kelly,  and Mackie.  The  first order of business  to come                                                            
before the committee was CS for HB 121.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                   HB 121-DENTAL CARE INSURANCE                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
MS. PATTY  SWENSON, legislative  aide to  Representative Con  Bunde,                                                            
stated  CSHB 121(L&C)  will allow  consumers to  choose any  dentist                                                            
they wish to  see including specialists.   It will prevent  insurers                                                            
from reimbursing  a covered  person at a  different rate because  of                                                            
the person's choice  of dentist.  CSHB 121(L&C) gives  consumers the                                                            
right  to receive  full  information  regarding their  care  options                                                            
without the fear  of adverse actions from insurance  companies.  The                                                            
bill will also  allow patients to  take civil action against  health                                                            
care insurers  to enforce their rights,  and it requires  any dental                                                            
treatment  plan review or  utilization review  to be conducted  by a                                                            
dentist.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN  suggested letting the drafters know  of the technical                                                            
change to the bill in Section 1.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KELLY asked if dentists are supporting CSHB 121(L&C).                                                                   
                                                                                                                              
MS. SWENSON answered yes.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN  moved CSHB 121(L&C)  with individual recommendations                                                             
and  accompanying  fiscal  notes.   Without  objection,  the  motion                                                            
carried.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                 HB 303-MISC. INSURANCE PROVISIONS                                                                          
                                                                                                                              
MS.  KATIE  CAMPBELL,  actuarial  for  the  Division  of  Insurance,                                                            
Department of  Community & Economic Development, stated  HB 303 will                                                            
bring  Alaska laws  into compliance  with  federal law  and it  will                                                            
update and clarify many of Alaska's health laws.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  LEMAN   moved  HB  303  from   committee  with   individual                                                            
recommendations  and accompanying fiscal notes.  Without  objection,                                                            
the motion carried.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
SENATOR  LEMAN moved to  withdraw his  motion for  the purpose  of a                                                            
specific amendment.   Without objection,  the motion to move  HB 303                                                            
from committee was withdrawn.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN moved Amendment 1 which reads:                                                                                    
     on page 5, line 27, delete the words "and interpret."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Without objection,  Amendment 1 was adopted thus creating  SCSHB 303                                                            
(L&C).                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN  moved SCSHB 303(L&C)  from committee with  individual                                                            
recommendations  and accompanying fiscal notes.  Without  objection,                                                            
the motion carried.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
           HB 422-WORKERS' COMPENSATION:DRUGS & ALCOHOL                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  MACKIE stated  HB 422 was  heard at  a previous  committee                                                            
hearing but was  held because Senator Donley had concerns  about the                                                            
proximate cause of injuries that occur on the job.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 519                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DONLEY asked  what the  outcome would  be if  a person  was                                                            
excluded from  workers' compensation  coverage because of  proximate                                                            
cause.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. PAUL GROSSI, Director  of the Division of Workers' Compensation,                                                            
Department  of Labor  & Workforce  Development  (DOLWD), stated  Mr.                                                            
Walters will answer Senator Donley's questions.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DONLEY asked what  the definition of "proximate cause" is in                                                            
workers' compensation claims.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. WILLIAM  WALTERS,  Chief of  Adjudications for  the Division  of                                                            
Workers' Compensation,  DOLWD, stated  "proximate cause"  is defined                                                            
as the substantial cause of an accident.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DONLEY  asked if, under HB 422, intoxication  was a cause of                                                            
an injury but the majority  of the causation was from other factors,                                                            
whether  an employee would  be excluded  from workers' compensation                                                             
coverage.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WALTERS  stated  HB  422  does  not  change  the  standard  for                                                            
intoxication at the workplace.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   DONLEY  stated   the  standard   under   present  law   is                                                            
intoxication which is a  higher standard than consumption.  A person                                                            
may have consumed alcohol  but not be intoxicated so the alcohol may                                                            
not have been  a dominant cause.  If another person  was intoxicated                                                            
and alcohol was the major  cause of the accident, the person who had                                                            
merely  consumed  alcohol  is out  of luck.    He asked  where  that                                                            
employee  turns if kicked  out of the workers'  compensation  system                                                            
because of the accident.                                                                                                        
CHAIRMAN MACKIE  asked whether a person who consumed  two beers and,                                                            
while on the work premises,  was severely injured when a pallet fell                                                            
off  of  a   vehicle  driving  by,   would  be  denied  a   workers'                                                            
compensation claim.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALTERS  replied the  person would not  lose benefits if  it was                                                            
proven that  the alcohol  consumed was not  a factor and the  person                                                            
was not impaired.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MACKIE  asked if Mr. Walters  could think of a scenario  in                                                            
which a person had consumed  alcohol and was involved in an accident                                                            
and would be denied workers' compensation.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WALTERS stated  any  person involved  in  an accident  who  was                                                            
impaired would be denied workers' compensation.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  MACKIE  stated  it  would  have  to  be  proven  that  the                                                            
impairment  from  the  alcohol   was  the  proximate  cause  of  the                                                            
accident.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DONLEY stated there  can be more than one proximate cause of                                                            
an  accident.    If  one  of  the  events  or  causes  involves  the                                                            
consumption   of   alcohol,   that   person   is   denied   workers'                                                            
compensation.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  MACKIE  asked  if the  intent  of HB  422  is to  give  an                                                            
employer who  has a zero tolerance  policy the ability to  show that                                                            
the consumption  of  alcohol  was the cause  of  an accident  versus                                                            
having to prove absolute intoxication of an employee.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALTERS  stated those scenarios  are hypothetical.  The  outcome                                                            
would be different  if an employer was trying to prove  intoxication                                                            
versus consumption  and which of the two was the proximate  cause of                                                            
an accident.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DONLEY stated that  a better standard might be to shift from                                                            
intoxication  to  consumption  and  that  consumption  was  not  the                                                            
dominant  cause  of  the  injury.   After  the  situation  has  been                                                            
assessed,  consumption  of alcohol  may not  be the  only factor  of                                                            
proximate  cause.  He asked  what happens  to people who are  denied                                                            
workers' compensation coverage.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WALTERS stated  a situation  with  many proximate  causes,  one                                                            
being alcohol  consumption  but not intoxication,  should be  turned                                                            
over to the  Superior Court for a  ruling on Workers' Compensation.                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DONLEY  stated that would be a good safety  valve if it were                                                            
part of HB 422.   If 51 percent of the proximate cause  was a factor                                                            
other  than the consumption  of  alcohol, that  person could  pursue                                                            
workers' compensation or damages.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MACKIE  asked if Mr. Walters could see a  potential problem                                                            
dealing with HB 422 if it passes.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALTERS  replied  if HB  422 passes,  it should  not affect  the                                                            
workload.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DONLEY  moved  a  conceptual  amendment  (Amendment  1)  as                                                            
follows:                                                                                                                        
     on page  2, delete lines 9 and  10 and insert, on line  9, "the                                                            
     consumption   of  an   alcoholic  beverage,   injury  was   not                                                            
     proximately caused  by the intoxication of the injured employee                                                            
     or".                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN  objected.  The motion carried with  Senators Hoffman,                                                            
Donley, and  T. Kelly voting  "Yea," and  Senators Leman and  Mackie                                                            
voting "Nay."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN  moved SCSHB 422 (L&C) from committee  with individual                                                            
recommendations  and accompanying fiscal notes.  Without  objection,                                                            
the motion carried.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
There  being no  further  business  to come  before  the  committee,                                                            
CHAIRMAN MACKIE adjourned the meeting at 2:27 p.m.                                                                              

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