Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/05/2004 09:04 AM Senate FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 10(HES)                                                                                              
     "An Act relating to pooling by employers and self-employed                                                                 
     individuals for purposes of group health insurance; and                                                                    
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
This was  the second  hearing for  this bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Co-Chair  Wilken  stated  this  bill,  sponsored  by Representative                                                             
Heinze, "has to do with  group health insurance for private groups."                                                            
Co-Chair Wilken  noted the information  provided in response  to Co-                                                            
Chair Green's  questions during an  earlier hearing [copy  on file].                                                            
Co-Chair Green  expressed disappointment that the  Division of Legal                                                            
and  Research  Services  was  unable  to  respond  to  the  question                                                            
regarding the  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability  Act.                                                            
She  emphasized  that this  legislation  would  not  ensure  reduced                                                            
rates.  She  read a  section  from  a document  titled  "Answers  to                                                            
questions asked  by the Sen. FIN committee" dated  May 3, 2004 [copy                                                            
on file], which addresses how insurance pooling impacts rates.                                                                  
     If,  by aggregating  their  purchasing power,  small  employers                                                            
     were able  to buy coverage at lower cost, firms  not previously                                                            
     offering  health coverage  might be encouraged  to do  so, thus                                                            
     reducing the numbers of uninsured.                                                                                         
Co-Chair Green  continued that the  statement contains hypothetical                                                             
language. There is no assurance  that this legislation would provide                                                            
continuing lower premiums and lower rates.                                                                                      
Co-Chair Wilken  referenced the second paragraph on  page two of the                                                            
same document,  commenting  that it  also supports  Senator  Green's                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE CHERYL HEINZE  stated that this legislation would not                                                            
guarantee reduced  insurance rates,  but it is a step "in  the right                                                            
PAT  LUBY,  Advocacy  Director,  American   Association  of  Retired                                                            
Persons,  testified  that  approximately   20  percent  of  Alaskans                                                            
between  the ages  of  50 and  65 do  not have  any  form of  health                                                            
insurance.  The  majority  of  these  individuals   work  full  time                                                            
performing  at  least  one  job;  however,   they  are  working  for                                                            
businesses  that  do not  offer  health  insurance.  AARP  considers                                                            
health  insurance to  be critical  to the economic  security  of all                                                            
individuals.  This legislation would  not guarantee lower  rates; it                                                            
would offer  individuals increased  access to health coverage.  This                                                            
bill would also benefit  the insurance industry by increasing policy                                                            
sales. The AARP  urges the Committee's support of  this legislation.                                                            
Senator  Dyson offered  a motion to  report HB  10, 23-LS0030\B,  as                                                            
amended   from  Committee   with  individual   recommendations   and                                                            
accompanying fiscal note.                                                                                                       
There was no objection  and SCS CS HB 10 (FIN) MOVED  from Committee                                                            
with zero fiscal note #1 from the Department of Administration.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects