Coverage mandates are at issue
BY JULIE BISBEE
Published: March 10, 2009
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A task force would review coverage requirements placed on insurance companies in Oklahoma under a measure passed by the Senate on Monday."
A task force would review coverage requirements placed on insurance companies in Oklahoma under a measure passed by the Senate on Monday.
Senate Bill 822 would create a panel to review the 36 mandates that require health insurance companies to pay for the treatment of certain ailments. The task force, made up of members of the insurance community, health care providers and private citizens, would evaluate existing mandates and make recommendations on which should be revised or eliminated, according to the bill filed by Sen. Cliff Branan, R-Oklahoma City.
The bill passed the Senate with a vote along party lines of 25-21. However, the bill does not advance to the House just yet. Both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate asked that it be reconsidered at a later date. All bills must pass out of the Senate by Thursday to be heard in the House.
Discussion about the creation of a task force quickly turned into debate about Nick’s Law, a failed measure to require insurance for autistic children.
Democrats argued the task force would seek to get rid of insurance mandates, including laws that require insurers to cover treatment of serious mental illnesses and breast cancer screenings.
"Mandates exist because people felt like their issues weren’t being addressed,” said Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, who has pushed for autism insurance. "At the end of the day, this is not going to help the people of Oklahoma; it’s going to hurt them. That’s not what I was elected to do.”
Republicans argued that mandates increase the cost of premiums to customers, who sometimes drop coverage because it cost too much. The end result is more people in Oklahoma without coverage.
"Mandates cause premium payers to pay more,” said Sen. Bill Brown, R-Broken Arrow.