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Bart goes to bat for sledders, bikers

March 5, 2009

Bart goes to bat for sledders, bikers

Thursday, March 05, 2009NEWS RELEASE


Committee passes Burgess-Stupak bill to protect coverage for recreational activities

Requires insurers to disclose limitations on coverage for injuries sustained while riding snowmobiles and motorcycles

WASHINGTON – The House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Congressmen Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas) to strengthen health insurance coverage for injuries incurred while participating in legal recreational and transportation activities, such as snowmobiling, motorcycling, riding ATVs and horseback riding.

“This bill requires health insurance companies to be upfront and honest with their policy holders when limitations or restrictions are placed on benefits,” Stupak said. “Many Americans are unaware that their health insurance may not cover injuries resulting from certain recreational activities because their policy is unclear or overly broad.”

H.R. 1253, The Health Insurance Restrictions and Limitations Clarification Act of 2009, requires that any limitations or restrictions on health insurance benefits be explicit and clear.

Insurance companies would be required to make available to participants and beneficiaries in an easily understandable manner a description of the limitations and restrictions included in the policy.

In January 2001, a rule was issued that created an inadvertent loophole in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Because of the way the rule was written, it has allowed insurers to deny health benefits for a covered injury resulting from participation in recreational activities such as skiing, horseback riding, ATV riding, snowmobiling and motorcycling.

The rule resulted in situations where individuals were unaware their insurance company would not pay medical bills to treat injuries sustained during certain recreational activities.

In many situations the exclusions are unclear or overly broad, creating confusion for individuals who may ride motorcycles, horses, snowmobiles, ATVs or participate in other legal activities that could result in an injury.

“Passing this straight forward legislation would protect northern Michigan residents, tourists and those across the country who ride motorcycles, horses, snowmobiles, ATVs or participate in other recreational activities from being caught by surprise,” Stupak said.

Stupak is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over health policy. H.R. 1253 awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives.

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