House Health Committee hearing Friday, Feb.17th

Summary of House Health and Welfare Committee Hearings, Wednesday, February 17th:

Discussion of home health care transportation bills. Several legislators were absent. This session was more a continuation of earlier discussions on bills that have been presented to the committee. The first bill talked about centered around H.658,, home health care transportation bill, sponsored by Representative Susan L. Wizowaty (D-Chittenden), with testimony from Bischa, and Home Health, on how it might be possible to set it up, on how there is a noticeable lack of available transportation in rural areas, and what would or would not be covered by insurance, and how hospitals would be able to handle this if it became law. Just discussion and testimony. No votes taken.

Representative Paul Poirier (I Barre) introduced a resolution (JRH 39), in draft, urging Congress to drop legislation on authorizing the purchase of health insurance across state lines or of health insurance companies to sell here in Vermont. A bill to allow this had been introduced by Rep. Patty Komline (R-Dorset), the minority whip, a couple weeks ago. Testimony from VPIRG and BISCHA supporting the resolution followed about the problems associated with a bill allowing insurance to move across state lines – out of network problems, compliance with Vermont laws, and, most of all consumer protection. Representative Wizowaty made a point of asking about what safeguards there would be for consumer protection if something like this was enacted. The Vermont Health Care Ombudsperson, Trinka Kerr State health care ombudsperson, supporting the resolution, testified that if the federal government did this, there would be huge problems with people being out of network. Executive director of VPIRG, suggested that companies in states like Delaware and South Dakota with much less regulation could sell really bad policies to consumers, catering to healthy people and excluding sick people. As far as I could tell most legislators present supported this resolution, as do I. The draft of the resolution is below.

To the House of Representatives:

The Committee on Health Care to which was referred Joint Resolution JRH 39, entitled “Joint Resolution urging Congress not to pursue legislation authorizing individuals to purchase across state lines,” respectfully reports that it has considered the same and recommends that the resolution be amended by striking the first resolved clause in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges Congress not to pursue legislation allowing individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines or authorizing health insurance companies to offer insurance to residents of a state if the company is not licensed to do business in that state, and be it further. And by changing the title of the resolution to read “Joint resolution urging Congress not to pursue legislation allowing individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines or authorizing health insurance companies to offer insurance to residents of a state of the company is not licensed to do business in that state.”