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Friday, March 9, 2012

Insurance Legislation in New Hampshire and West Virginia

In New Hampshire, the Union-Leader reports:
Mothers with babies packed a State House hearing room on Thursday to oppose the elimination of a mandate that insurers cover midwife services.
They were joined by the parents of autistic children and advocates for the hearing impaired at a Senate hearing on House Bill 309.
The bill, approved by the House in January, would make insurance coverage for midwife services optional, and it would place limits on bariatric surgery, hearing aids and early intervention services for children with autism.
Supporters of the bill said eliminating insurance mandates would help reduce the cost of health insurance in the state....
A representative of the state Insurance Department estimated that all of the state’s mandates together make up less than 5 percent of premium costs, and that of the mandates being considering for elimination, hearing aids impose the greatest cost, at about 1.6 percent of premiums.
The bill targets mandates enacted over the last four years. The midwife services is the only mandate that would be eliminated outright. Parts of the other mandates would remain, but there would be limits on coverage.
In the case of early intervention services for children with autism, the benefits would be “subject to utilization review” in line with insurance department rules.
In West Virginia, The State Journal reports: 
The Senate Finance Committee, after some debate, moved a bill to the full Senate to provide insurance coverage for children with the disorder.
House Bill 2693 passed during last year's legislative session to provide insurance coverage for children with the disorder. However that bill left a gap in coverage.
A bill introduced during this year's regular session, House Bill 4260, aimed to close that gap. It quickly and unanimously passed the House of Delegates, but stalled in the Senate.
Jill Scarboro McLaury, a certified behavior analyst, was moved to tears while speaking to the committee.
"I certainly understand how there is a miscommunication about what the intent was last year if you weren't here for those final meetings," she said. "I don't understand how they can refute their own language that clearly says the caps were for ABA."
McLaury pointed to data from other states, including Missouri, with a population about four times the size of West Virginia, reporting that insurance costs increased about one-tenth of 1 percent.
"Assumptions used by states that have independent fiscal consultants are between 10 and 15 pages," she said. "If you look at PEIA and CHIP's notes, you have about a paragraph of their substantiating, I'm sorry, lack of substantiating evidence."
McLaury said claims data from five states show that increases in premiums range about 15 cents to 31 cents per member per month.