The American Motorcyclist Association announced today that more than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have co-sponsored a bill that would end health insurance discrimination against motorcyclists and others who participate in legal recreational activities or use their motorcycles for transportation.
While the action is significant, there is still much work to be done, according to AMA Vice President for Government Relations Edward Moreland.
"The AMA is calling on motorcyclists and others who face health insurance discrimination to urge their Representatives to support H.R. 1076, known as the HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act," said Moreland. "Time is short. The bill has broad bi-partisan support but we need 218 votes for passage. If we don't act by April, we will likely miss our chance for legislative action in 2008."
Health insurance discrimination can have a devastating financial effect on families and has been the focus of efforts by the AMA and other groups for many years. Following the passage of the original HIPAA legislation in 2001, bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services created a loophole that allowed insurance companies to deny benefits to people who are injured while participating in legal recreational activities, such as riding motorcycles or off-road vehicles, horseback riding, skiing, and other activities. H.R. 1076 will close that loophole.
Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas) has worked diligently to get H.R. 1076 passed. "Laws like HIPAA are passed to protect people," he said. "Sometimes they have unintended consequences. When this happens, Congress has an obligation to fix the loopholes and that's what this bill does."
"No one should be denied health coverage for no reason other than they enjoy snowmobiles, motorcycles or other recreational activities," said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the lead Democrat sponsoring the bill. "This legislation would enforce the original intent of Congress and ensure recreational enthusiasts are not discriminated against."
In the last Congress, the U.S. Senate passed a companion bill by unanimous consent, but the bigger challenge has been getting legislation approved in the House.
"We now have 101 co-sponsors for this legislation in the House, which is an important milestone," said Moreland. "But to reach 218 votes and get H.R. 1076 passed, immediate grassroots action is crucial, especially since House members are returning to their districts soon to campaign for the fall election."
U.S. Representatives can quickly and easily be contacted by going to the AMA Rapid Response Center at www.AMADirectlink.com.
Other organizations supporting this legislation include: American Council of Snowmobile Association; American Horse Council; American Recreation Coalition; American Trails; Americans for Responsible Recreational Access; Blue Ribbon Coalition; International Mountain Bicycling Association; Motorcycle Industry Council; Motorcycle Riders Foundation; National Ski Areas Association; Specialty Vehicle Industry Council; Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association; and the Washington Road Riders Association.