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Rec Benefits Bill Slides Into House - Updated With Vote

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Members of the House voted 422-3 Monday to pass a health insurance benefits disclosure bill.

The bill, H.R. 1253, the Health Insurance Restrictions and Limitations Clarification Act of 2009, would require that group health plan sponsors disclosure coverage limits and restrictions in a timely, easily understandable fashion.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bill earlier this month by a voice vote.

House leaders put the bill on the suspension calendar, which is designed to allow for quick passage of non-controversial bills.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, has introduced H.R. 1253 together with Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich.

The bill would require that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act be amended to require that any coverage limits or restrictions be disclosed to the plan sponsors in writing, before the point of sale.

The bill also would require a plan sponsor to provide, before workers and others enroll in a plan, “a description of such limitations and restrictions in a form that is easily understandable by such participants and beneficiaries.”

The bill also would add limitation notice requirements to similar provisions in the Public Health Service Act.

The disclosure rules would “apply with respect to plan years beginning after 1 year after the date of the enactment of this act,” according to the text of the act.

Burgess and Stupak, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced a similar bill, H.R. 6908, in the previous Congress.

In September 2008, the lawmakers said the bill was designed to “strengthen health insurance coverage for injuries incurred while participating in legal recreational and transportation activities, such as snowmobiling, motorcycling, riding ATVs and horseback riding.”

“Many Americans are unaware that their health insurance may not cover injuries resulting from certain recreational activities because their policy is unclear or overly broad,” Stupak said in a statement in the fall.

The bill would restore rules that were in effect before January 2001, when a change in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act gave insurers the ability to deny health benefits for a covered injury resulting from participation in recreational activities such as skiing, horseback riding, snowmobiling and motorcycling, Stupak said.

Links to the text of H.R. 1253 and other information about the bill are available here.