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Insurance Bill Moving to House Floor for Debate

March 5, 2002
By: JiaoJiao Shen
State Capital Bureau

Insurance companies will have to cover hearing aids for children under a bill approved by a House committee on Tuesday. JiaoJiao Shen has more from the Capitol.

RunTime: 1:58
OutCue: SOC

Rep. Chuck Graham's bill requiring all health insurance companies to pay for hearing aids for children will go to the House floor.

The House Insurance Committee approved of the bill with little opposition Tuesday afternoon.

Graham says this bill specifically covers children because they are the ones who need hearing aids the most.

RunTime: 8
OutCue: take for granted
Contents: Graham says hearing aids are critical for children one through five so they can develop language skills that most people take for granted.

Only insuring children also has other benefits.

Rep. Bill Luetkenhaus, who voted for the bill, says it also prevents large increases in insurance premiums.

RunTime: 9
OutCue: health insurance premiums
Contents: Luetkenhaus says if they target children, they are helping children and they solve the problem without impacting insurance premiums.

Higher insurance rates is the opposition to this bill.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer says he voted against this bill because it will only raise insurance rates.

He says if insurance rates are raised, less people can afford it so they drop out of their plan, increasing the uninsured population.

It's not just Luetkemeyer who has this concern. Even supporters, like Luetkenhaus, recognize mandating insurance raises premiums so less people can afford it. But he still agrees with the bill.

RunTime: 7
OutCue: good compromise
Contents: Luetkenhaus says every time something is mandated and premiums go up, less people can afford health insurance. But this bill is a good compromise.

The possibility that insurance rates increase is out there, but Graham says if there is rise, it will be within reason. Evidence shows that previous mandates in other states did not cause a rise in insurance rates.

RunTime: 9
OutCue: did not go up
Contents: Grahams says that the rates will not rise beyond negligible and studies from other states show that rates did not rise.

Any change in rates will not be overly drastic because the bill requires insurance companies to cover about $1,250 a year, which Luetkenhaus says in not excessive.

RunTime: 11
OutCue: on people's bills
Contents: Luetkenhaus' hope is since they are only supporting the part about children and lowered the amount of coverage to 1,250, it shouldn't make a huge impact on people's bills.

After passing in a House committee, the bill is now headed to the House floor..

From the State Capitol, I'm JiaoJiao Shen.