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For Immediate Release
April 26, 2006
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

Curran Leads National Effort to
Protect Health Insuance Benefits---Opposes SB 1955

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that he along with the Attorneys General from 38 other states sent a letter to Congress urging leaders to defeat Senate Bill 1955 -- The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2006. Maryland led this multi-state effort along with the Attorneys General of Illinois and North Dakota.

Senate Bill 1955 would dramatically change the health insurance marketplace by allowing health insurance carriers to offer health plans that do not include state mandated benefits. Maryland currently mandates that health insurance plans include services such as cancer screenings, mammograms, routine gynecological care, child wellness services, and diabetes equipment. Under this legislation, health insurance carriers will no longer have to offer such services in their plans.

The bill will also hinder a state’s ability to assist consumers in receiving contracted benefits, a function that is performed by the Attorney General’s Health Education and Advocacy Unit. As health insurance has become more complicated and an increasing number of providers participate in managed care plans, the Maryland General Assembly recognized that it is crucial for consumers to receive assistance in obtaining the coverage benefits promised by their carrier or HMO. For that reason, it set up the Health Education and Advocacy Unit in the Attorney Generals Office. Since taking on the function of assisting consumers in this area in 1999, the Health Education and Advocacy Unit have obtained more than $6.95 million in relief for consumers.

"Passage of Senate Bill 1955 will harm consumers both physically and financially," Curran said. "State benefit mandates were carefully considered by our State legislature after weighing the health needs of Maryland consumers. Many of the state mandated benefits provide preventive and/or diagnostic care and their elimination will result in many consumers having more serious health problems in the future. In addition, limiting the ability of my office and the Maryland Insurance Administration to assist Marylanders would prevent many consumers from receiving the benefits to which they are entitled under their health insurance contract."

Consumers that need assistance receiving their health benefits can contact the Attorney General’s Health Education and Advocacy Unit by either making a phone call (1-877-261-8807, toll-free in Maryland) online at www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/HEAU.htm.


   

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