Five Point Health Plan Progresses

Last week I introduced a five-point health plan to increase coverage and tighten insurance regulations. Efforts are underway to move the legislation quickly though the Legislature.

Sharing the plan with other legislators caused a flurry of activity. In the Assembly, the Chair of the Committee on Health Care Reform and three other Representatives agreed to introduce companion legislation. The Chair of the Senate Health Committee will co-sponsor the legislation. I soon expect committee hearings in both houses.

The five-point plan was designed to take immediately achievable steps to bring increased coverage, certainty and fairness to health insurance while waiting for comprehensive health insurance reform. We must make sure everyone has affordable health care and we must get there by whatever steps are possible.

We can begin by allowing parents to continue health care coverage for their unmarried adult children up to age 27. Young adults age 19 to 29 are the least likely to have health care coverage. They are also the least expensive to cover. Thirty other states offer some form of coverage for adult children.

Wisconsin has a state sponsored high risk pool for those who cannot get commercial insurance. The program has become affordable in the past few years and my proposal will lower the requirements to get into the state’s high risk pool – increasing coverage for those who need it most.

We need to make it easier for people to change insurance when family circumstances change. Barriers – limits on pre-existing conditions; rules on changing policies - have kept people with a policy they no longer want or need. My legislation will reduce those barriers to changing insurance and increase the choices people have – whether changing a policy within the same company or changing companies.

When people are now denied coverage or their policy is dropped, their only appeal is to the company that took the action in the first place. This will change with my five-point plan health plan. A free independent review of denials or dropped policies will be available to anyone who asks for one.

My proposed legislation will require that “pre-existing conditions” must be previously diagnosed by a physician and the exclusion period for pre-existing conditions cannot exceed one year. Some insurance companies now deny payment for treatments of existing diseases because the patient “should have known” about the problem earlier.

These are common sense reforms. Many other states have adopted similar rules. Wisconsin can do the same.

State Senator Kathleen Vinehout serves the 31st Senate District. She can be contacted by mail at Senator Kathleen Vinehout, P.O. Box 7882 Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7882 by phone at 877-763-6636 (toll free) or email at Sen.Vinehout@legis.wisconsin.gov