THE HIPAA RECREATIONAL INJURY TECHNICAL CORRECTION ACT OF 2005 -- (Extensions of Remarks - November 09, 2005)
* Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing the Health Care Parity for Participation for Legal Transportation and Recreational Activities Act. This bill would protect those individuals who participate in legal recreational activities from being discriminated against by their employers for health insurance purposes.
* In 1996, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This legislation was enacted so that employees could continue health care coverage if they switched jobs and so that employees would not be denied health care coverage based on a pre-existing medical condition or participation in legal recreational activities.
* On January 5, 2001, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a Final Rule for Nondiscrimination in Health Coverage in a Group Market, which was required under HIPAA. Under the rule, employers are prohibited from refusing coverage based simply on an employee's participation in a legal recreational activity, such as motorcycling, skiing, snowmobiling, horseback riding and all-terrain vehicle riding. However, CMS, in its interpretation of the word ``participation'' effectively legalized the denial of benefits for any injuries sustained while participating in these activities. Clearly, Congress did not include specific language in HIPAA to provide coverage for people who engage in these activities, only to be denied coverage in the event they sustain an injury. The rule is counter to the intent of Congress and should be corrected.
* In 2001, I joined with several of my House colleagues in sending a letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson asking him to reverse the CMS ruling, but he said it would take an act of Congress. I cosponsored legislation that addressed this issue in the 108th Congress. There is legislation that has been introduced in the 109th Congress but that bill excludes individuals who participate in skiing and snowboarding. That excludes a large number of people in my district and throughout the country who are winter sports enthusiasts, and I think it's critical that they be covered for any injuries they sustain from participating in winter sports.
* Mr. Speaker, this bill, which is identical to legislation introduced by Senator SUSAN COLLINS, is about fairness in health coverage for the millions of Americans who enjoy skiing, motorcycle riding, horseback riding, ORV riding, or any other legal recreational activity. It also further clarifies Congress' intent when it passed this landmark law, which has helped so many Americans keep or obtain health insurance. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this important legislation.