Legislature(2009 - 2010)

04/10/2009 04:36 PM L&C

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04:36:03 PM Start
04:36:07 PM HB222
04:44:47 PM HB221
04:51:57 PM 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
04:55:07 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                                                                       

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