Legislature(2009 - 2010)
04/10/2009 04:36 PM L&C
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|Board of Barbers and Hairdressers|| Board of Chiropractic Examiners|| Board of Dental Examiners|| Alaska Labor Relations Agency|| Board of Marine Pilots|| Board of Marital and Family Therapy|| Board of Certified Direct-entry Midwives|| Board of Nursing|| Occupational Safety and Health Review Board|| Board of Examiners in Optometry|| Board of Pharmacy|| State Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Board|| Board of Professional Counselors|| Board of Psychologist and Psychological Associate Examiners|| Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers|| Real Estate Commission|| Regulatory Commission of Alaska (rca)|| Board of Social Work Examiners|| Board of Veterinary Examiners|| Workers' Compensation Appeals Commission|| Alaska Workers' Compensation Board|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 222-MED. INS. ELIGIBILITY/NONDISCRIMINATION 4:36:07 PM CHAIR OLSON announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 222, "An Act prohibiting discrimination by health care insurers based on genetic information; requiring a health care insurer to offer coverage for the treatment of alcoholism or drug abuse; providing continuity of coverage for college students during medically necessary leaves of absence from college; requiring health care insurers in the group market to provide parity in the application of mental health and substance abuse benefits that comply with federal requirements; amending the definition of 'dentist' to include out-of-state dentists for purposes of certain dental insurance requirements; and providing for an effective date." 4:36:12 PM JAMES WALDO, Staff, Representative Lindsey Holmes, Alaska State Legislature, explained that this bill will update sections of Alaska's health insurance code to comply with recent changes in federal law. He advised members that if the bill is not passed the state's Division of Insurance will not be able to enforce the law when the new federal law becomes effective. MR. WALDO explained that the updates include changes that prohibit discrimination against individuals on the basis of genetic testing, requires that insurers continue to cover college students under their parents' health insurance coverage during instances in which the student must take leave from school for medical reasons. Additionally, the federal law requires insurers to provide parity in mental health and substance abuse treatment coverage. Currently, insurers are required to provide coverage, but there are limitations and caps on the coverage. However, under the new federal law the caps are no longer allowed. Thus, insurers are mandated to offer coverage, but are not required to provide it. He related a scenario in which a person breaks a leg or has substance abuse issues. The same coverage would apply to substance abuse treatment as treatment for the broken leg. 4:38:40 PM MR. WALDO explained that Section 3 would amend the definition of dentist for insurance purposes so that patients obtaining services from dentists who are licensed in other jurisdictions will be covered. He related that Section 4 requires insurers to continue to cover college students under their parents' health insurance coverage when the students need to take leave from school for medical reasons. MR. WALDO addressed enrollment requirements for employees in instances in which the employee opts out of the employer's insurance plan. The first change addresses a person or their dependent who is covered by Medicaid, but who loses eligibility for Medicaid. The employee would then have an option to re- enroll in their employer's health insurance plan. The second change concerns instances in which Medicaid will pay a certain amount of the premium for health insurance. In those instances, this provision would allow a person who becomes eligible for Medicaid assistance for premium coverage to re-enroll in their employer's health insurance plan so that Medicaid can be applied to the insurance premiums. 4:40:24 PM MR. WALDO explained that Section 6 prevents a health care insurer from placing restrictions on mental health and substance abuse coverage treatment. He reiterated that the provider must offer the coverage but is not required to provide it. He related that Section 7 provides for an effective date, such that the effective dates coincide with federal provisions. In response to Chair Olson, Mr. Waldo confirmed that a person must be licensed as a dentist prior to working in the state. 4:42:41 PM CHAIR OLSON, after first determining no one else wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 222. REPRESENTATIVE LYNN moved to report HB 222 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, HB 222 was reported from the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee. 4:44:45 PM The committee took an at-ease from 4:44 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.