Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/19/1998 03:50 PM House HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 350 - INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR CONTRACEPTIVES                                 
Number 2110                                                                    
CHAIRMAN BUNDE announced the next item on the agenda was HB 350,               
"An Act requiring that the cost of contraceptives and related                  
health care services be included in health insurance coverage."  He            
asked the sponsor, Representative Eric Croft to present his                    
Number 2116                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CROFT, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of                
HB 350, said he wanted to report back to the committee on a couple             
of issues that had been raised in the testimony at the last meeting            
on HB 350.  With reference to Mr. Evans' testimony that he was not             
aware that most health insurance plans routinely covered abortions,            
Representative Croft said that is the factual situation in the                 
nation.  But more specifically relating to Alaska, according to the            
Division of Insurance, Blue Cross and Aetna do routinely cover                 
abortions and sterilizations.  There is no mandate by law, but both            
companies do it for their own reasons.  Both companies publish a               
list of procedures that are not covered as part of their basic                 
coverage and the lists do not include abortion.  He noted that                 
Principal Mutual Insurance Company, Alaska's third largest                     
insurance company, may not routine cover abortions; it was somewhat            
Number 2166                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said there had been some concerns expressed               
that HB 350 could have a wider application; i.e., that it might                
cover Medicare supplemental and/or dental.  According to Katie                 
Campbell, Division of Insurance and Mike Ford, bill drafter from               
Legislative Legal Services, the Medicare supplemental and/or dental            
would not be covered.                                                          
Number 2192                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CROFT referred to the philosophical discussion at               
the previous meeting regarding whether the provision of                        
contraceptives causes promiscuity.  He said there may be a                     
correlation, but it seemed to him that it works the other way.  For            
example, more promiscuous people might use contraceptives for the              
very obvious reason they're engaging in that activity, and less                
people might not, because they don't need to.  He hasn't been able             
to find any evidence and has asked Mr. Heidersdorf for his sources,            
but as of this meeting, Representative Croft had not received any              
information from Mr. Heidersdorf.                                              
Number 2235                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CROFT was of the opinion the legislation puts a tool            
in the hands of Alaskans that allows individuals to plan their                 
Number 2243                                                                    
CHAIRMAN BUNDE surmised that if HB 350 passes, insurance companies             
would offer this option, but people who  belong to health plans                
would not necessarily have to subscribe to that option.                        
REPRESENTATIVE CROFT replied that no one would have to use                     
contraceptives if they didn't want to, but the option is there.                
CHAIRMAN BUNDE inquired if a person would have to pay for an                   
insurance policy that provided that coverage.                                  
REPRESENTATIVE CROFT responded the individual wouldn't have to use             
contraceptives, but would be paying on an insurance policy that did            
provide the coverage to other people.                                          
Number 2276                                                                    
CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there were further questions of the                    
sponsor.  Hearing none, he closed public testimony and asked the               
pleasure of the committee.                                                     
Number 2329                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said, "It seems to me that what we're doing               
here is not providing the devices, in a sense what we're doing is              
through the insurance company providing ...                                    
TAPE 98-11, SIDE B                                                             
Number 0001                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON ... devices."  He wondered if the argument was            
that people who have health insurance don't have enough disposable             
or marginal income to acquire the devices for themselves.  It has              
been his experience that health insurance is so expensive that                 
people who can afford health insurance or have a job that provides             
it, probably have some discretionary income.  As he recalled,                  
contraceptives are not prohibitively expensive.                                
Number 0045                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said he is not convinced that the reason                  
people are not using birth control is because they don't have                  
enough money because people who are able to afford insurance or                
have a job that provides it, would likely have the money. He said,             
"So then it seems to me if that's the case, then what we're doing              
is providing a mechanism for those who want to use their insurance             
company to buy it or just kind of providing a little discount for              
them because they can get someone else to help subsidize the cost              
of buying the birth control devices."   Certainly, this issue can              
be argued from a safety standpoint in that there's less health risk            
if a person doesn't become pregnant and certainly with some birth              
control devices, there are less risks of sexually transmitted                  
diseases.  Is it then in an insurance company's or a person's best             
interest to avail themselves of these safety devices.   In lots of             
cases it is.  It appeared to him the insurance industry is in                  
business to make money and if industry data indicated their clients            
were better off not getting pregnant, insurance companies would be             
offering incentives.  He indicated he would not vote to pass this              
bill out of committee.                                                         
Number 0132                                                                    
CHAIRMAN BUNDE directed the committee's attention to a letter of               
intent in the packets.                                                         
Number 0140                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to adopt the letter of intent.              
There being no objection, the letter of intent was adopted.                    
Number 0150                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said after much personal debate, he had                  
advised the sponsor the previous day that he would not be voting to            
pass HB 350 from committee.  His concern was with the message                  
that's being sent by asking that birth control devices be provided.            
It has been his experience that most children don't have an ideal              
home life and are guided by other outside influences, as well as               
what is legal and illegal, rather than by a set of principles                  
instilled by the parents.                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE PORTER recalled when marijuana was legal in Alaska              
for adults in their own home and said it was extremely difficult to            
conduct any drug prevention programs for children during that                  
period of time, because it was technically legal. The public                   
perception was that marijuana must be alright because it was legal.            
His concern is that kids will perceive that contraception is                   
alright because it's being provided.  This was not the message he              
wanted to pass on.                                                             
Number 0268                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said there were other aspects of society that             
needed to be looked at.  For example, a tremendous amount of money             
is spent on drug and alcohol abuse and yet alcohol is legal.                   
Tobacco is another example where funds are spent on educating young            
people, and yet it is still legal.  In both cases, insurance                   
companies cover the cost of the associated diseases.  He viewed                
HB 350 as providing a certain amount of safety, not only for                   
teenagers but for young married adults not wishing to start a                  
family immediately, and don't have the disposable income available             
for contraception.  He was of the opinion these types of programs              
should be covered through an insurance policy.                                 
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said he was not necessarily enamored with the             
idea of mandating insurance coverage, but he thought that HB 350               
had brought forth a very valid debate and he was going to vote to              
pass HB 350 from committee.                                                    
Number 0398                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN made a motion to move HB 350 with attached              
letter of intent and fiscal notes.                                             
CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked for a roll call vote.  Representatives Brice,             
Kemplen, Green and Bunde voted in favor of moving the bill.                    
Representatives Dyson and Porter voted against it.  Representative             
Vezey was absent.  Therefore, HB 350 moved from the House Health,              
Education and Social Services Standing Committee on a vote of 4-2.             

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