A Gulf War veteran who serves in the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a bill that could bolster the rights of reservists to have their health insurance reinstated when they return from active duty.[@@]

Under current law, service personnel ordered to active duty who terminate health insurance coverage are entitled to reinstatement of coverage after returning to civilian life. Those personnel are not protected against premium increases.

The new House bill, H.R. 2046, would prohibit a premium increase upon reinstatement if it affects only the individual service member, but it would allow general increases in premiums if the increases applied to other persons with similar coverage, according to Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, the bill’s sponsor.

The bill also would strengthen reservists’ rights to reinstatement of coverage if they chose to discontinue their employer coverage before beginning active duty.

In a speech printed in the Congressional Record, Buyer noted that National Guard and Reserve members frequently drop their health insurance coverage upon their mobilization because they become eligible for Defense Department benefits.

“These improvements in our laws would further protect members of the National Guard and Reserve who so willingly make great personal sacrifices in the defense of our nation,” Buyer said.

Buyer, an officer in the Army Reserves, served as a military legal advisor in Iraq during the Gulf War.

Links to the text of the bill and other information about the bill are on the Web at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:h.r.02046: