Riders Need to Act Now to Protect Their Health Benefits

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- As motorcyclists and others involved in recreational activities face a serious threat to their continued health-insurance coverage under new proposed federal regulations, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is urging people to contact their members of Congress to support an effort to protect those health benefits.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Green of Wisconsin is asking his colleagues to sign a letter addressed to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, urging him to rewrite the rules so that motorcyclists and others who engage in legal recreational activities don't face health-insurance discrimination. The AMA wants motorcyclists and others to contact their representatives in Congress to support Green's letter.

You can contact your representatives quickly by going to the AMA website at www.AMADirectlink.com and clicking on the "Rapid Response Center" icon in the "Protecting Your Right to Ride" area to send an e-mail. You can also use the AMA Rapid Response Center to let federal administration officials know that you oppose health-insurance discrimination against motorcyclists and others who enjoy legal recreational activities. The public-comment period ends April 9.

The new regulations, issued jointly by three federal agencies, are the culmination of a rulemaking process that dragged on for nearly five years after Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. The proposed final version of the regulations appears to directly contradict the will of Congress in passing that 1996 law, Green notes in a letter to his colleagues.

The purpose of the original legislation was to protect workers from discrimination in the health insurance they receive through their employers. As written by Congress, the bill would have prohibited employers from denying health coverage based a a worker's pre-existing medical conditions or participation in legal recreational activities.

"While the new rule prohibits employers from refusing coverage based simply on an employee's participation in legal recreational activities, it essentially legalized the denial of benefits for any injuries sustained while participating in these activities," Green wrote.

"Clearly, Congress did not include specific language to provide coverage for people who engage in these activities, only to be denied coverage in the event they sustain an injury," Green wrote.

The new rules, written by the outgoing Clinton administration, were to take effect March 9. But President Bush put the regulations on hold until May 8 so they could be reviewed.

For more information, visit the AMA website http://www.AMADirectlink.com


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