AMA-BACKED BILL TO END BIKER HEALTHCARE BIAS INTRODUCED IN HOUSE & SENATE

2007-02-22 11:19
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has
announced that bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the U.S.
House of Representatives and U.S. Senate that would end health-care
discrimination against motorcyclists, ATV enthusiasts, and participants
in other legal recreational activities.

On February 15, 2007, U.S. Representatives Michael C. Burgess (R-Texas)
and Bart Stupak (D-Michigan) introduced H.R. 1076, "The HIPAA
Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act." On the same day, Senators
Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) introduced
identical companion legislation, S. 616.

The bills seek to bar employers from discriminating against those who
take part in activities such as motorcycling, ATV riding, skiing,
snowmobiling or horseback riding in the health-insurance programs they
offer their workers.

During the 108th Congress, the full Senate unanimously passed this
legislative language; the House, however, adjourned before enacting the
legislation. As a result, the legislation was re-introduced again this
session of Congress.

"This important legislation would prevent health insurance
discrimination against citizens who take part in legal, recreational
activities such as motorcycle riding and snowmobiling," said Stupak. "I
look forward to continuing to work with the American Motorcyclist
Association and other organizations on this issue."

Burgess also credited the AMA's advocacy. "The development of this bill
could not have been possible without bipartisan congressional support
and the hard work of the American Motorcyclist Association."

In introducing the Senate bill, Collins referred to the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) signed into law by President
Clinton in 1996. "While I was pleased that the rule prohibits health
plans and issuers from denying coverage to individuals who engage in
certain types of recreational activities, such as skiing, horseback
riding, snowmobiling or motorcycling, I am concerned that it would allow
insurers to deny health benefits for an otherwise covered injury that
results from participation in these activities."

HIPAA originally prohibited employers from denying health-care coverage
based on a worker's pre-existing medical conditions or participation in
legal activities, such as motorcycling. But later federal bureaucrats
reversed the law, writing rules to allow health-insurance discrimination
against motorcyclists and others who engage in legal activities like ATV
riding, or horseback riding -- employees were guaranteed the right to
health-care coverage, but not guaranteed any benefits under those plans.

Motorcyclists were outraged when federal bureaucrats went against the
will of Congress, and the AMA immediately lobbied legislators to right
this wrong. Others involved in the effort include the All-Terrain
Vehicle Association, the American Council of Snowmobile Associations,
the American Horse Council, the BlueRibbon Coalition, the Motorcycle
Industry Council, Motorcycle Riders Foundation, and the National Ski
Areas Association.

"This loophole written by federal bureaucrats must be closed once and
for all," said Edward Moreland, AMA Vice President for Government
Relations. "We encourage AMA and ATVA members, as well as all
motorcyclists and ATV riders, to contact members of their congressional
delegations to support this important legislation."

Enthusiasts can send letters of support to members of Congress through
the AMA Rapid Response Center at www.AMADirectlink.com.

Source: The American Motorcyclist Association

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