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Senate Passes Bill to Protect Riders from Insurance Exclusions
American Horse Council
The American Horse Council reports, on the last working day of this Congress, the Senate passed the HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act, introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Russell Feingold (D-WI). The legislation would prohibit group health insurers from denying benefits otherwise provided under a group health plan simply because an injury resulted from legal recreational activities like horseback riding.
Unfortunately, no further action is expected. Although Congress is returning for a brief session in December, this is simply to clarify the Omnibus legislation that was passed in mid-November to keep the government operating until the next Congress, which convenes in January, 2005.
In 1996, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as the HIPAA legislation, which was intended to prohibit health insurers from denying health coverage based on a worker's pre-existing medical condition or participation in legal recreational activities, like riding. But federal regulations adopted in 2001 under HIPAA seemed to permit health insurers to exclude coverage for injuries resulting from riding and other forms of “dangerous” recreation.
In response, Senators Collins and Feingold introduced this legislation to prohibit group health insurers from denying benefits otherwise provided under a plan simply because an injury resulted from legal recreational activities like horseback riding. “The legislation that I wrote and the Senate passed accomplishes this by more clearly defining health insurance regulations to ensure that people participating in legal recreational activities are covered under an equal standard of protection,” said Senator Collins when the bill was passed.
Representative Scott McInnis (R-CO) introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives (H.R.1749). Although the bill had over 150 cosponsors it did not move.
The AHC supported this legislation and will support it again when it is re-introduced in the next Congress. “Passage of this legislation in the Senate is an important step. This shows the bill has support and will be helpful in moving it along in the next Congress,” said AHC President Jay Hickey.