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Lobbyist Money Help  

Lawmakers consider health insurance review

February 04, 2003
By: David Bryan
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Lawmakers are considering measures to reduce health insurance costs by omitting certain state mandates on health insurance benefits.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, would enact a commission to look at state mandates on health insurance and recommend to the legislature whether they should be kept, changed or omitted. The commission would also review all future legislation regarding health insurance mandates.

Luetkemeyer said while most mandates are beneficial, they are expensive and add to the cost of health insurance. He said they are driving up the price of health insurance, leading to an increasing number of Missourians who cannot afford health insurance.

"All the mandates are there with the best of intentions," he said during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee. "The problem is that those mandates are driving people out of the business of buying health insurance."

Leutkemeyer cited a study estimating 20 to 25 percent of those who are uninsured are so due to mandates. He also said that the number of people who benefit from the mandates is small.

"Health care costs are a critical issue, and mandated benefits are a contributing factor to rising health care costs," said Leuktemeyer.

The bill would enact the Mandated Health Benefit Review Commission, which would review all health insurance coverage mandates currently required by law. The commission would be required to report to the legislature by January 2005 to recommend changes.

Any future bill that creates a health insurance benefit mandate would have to be approved by the commission before it could be passed into law.

Despite strong support for the bill from lobbyists, Rep. Cathy Jolly, D- Jackson County, said she had doubts about the commission.

"I question how this commission can determine which ones are worthwhile," she said during the hearing.

Later in the hearing, she said if the legislature disapproved of a mandate, then they would not have passed it initially.

Supporters of the bill include the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, BlueCross BlueShield Association, and the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition.