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HEALTH CARE Bipartisan bill would protect those injured during recreation

Published: Thu, June 9, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.

YOUNGSTOWN -- U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland has introduced legislation that he says will protect millions of people from being denied health care coverage if they become injured while taking part in recreational activities.
Under current rules, health insurance providers may deny coverage to individuals injured for activities such as riding a motorcycle or a horse.
The rules, written in January 2001, are part of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
"While a person cannot be excluded from a plan for engaging in certain recreational activities, benefits for a particular injury can, in some cases, be excluded based on the source of the injury," the law reads.
While a person cannot be denied access to a health plan because they own a motorcycle, for example, they may be denied coverage if they are injured while riding it, said Strickland, of Lisbon, D-6th.
If the legislation is approved, it would require health plans to provide coverage for injuries suffered while participating in legal activities, he said.
The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas.
"It's shameful to allow health insurers to discriminate against individuals who take part in perfectly legal hobbies and activities," Strickland said.
He added, "According to this rule, a person injured while drinking and driving would be covered by their health insurance, but an individual thrown from a horse may not. Our legislation provides a common sense solution to this rule."

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