from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121
January 29, 2007

Texas Coalition for Insurance Services Parity Rallies to Support SB 54 by Zaffirini

AUSTIN -- The Texas Coalition for Insurance Services Parity on Monday (Jan. 29) held a press conference and rally at the State Capitol in support of Senate Bill 54 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, which requires health insurance parity coverage for amputees. SB 54 will protect individuals and families who purchase health insurance by ensuring that prosthetic and orthotic devices are included in health plans.

"Truly, losing a limb is a medical tragedy no one expects to endure," Senator Zaffirini said. "A person does expect, however, his or her medical insurance to cover costly expenses associated with major medical procedures and the purchase of essential medical devices. This bill provides such protection for all Texas families."

SB 54 requires group health insurance plans to provide coverage for prosthetic devices equal to Medicare benefit levels so persons who are medically insured are protected in the event of loss of limb. Current law allows insurance companies to limit or exclude prosthetic device coverage. Amputees seeking to pay for expensive orthotic and prosthetic devices must expect inexorably to fund the majority of the cost.

The Texas Coalition for Insurance Services Parity is asking legislators to support this legislation and is conducting a statewide campaign to bring issues important to amputees to the attention of lawmakers. Coalition members are working to ensure Texas becomes the seventh state to pass such a parity law. Co-sponsors of SB 54 include Senators Kip Averitt, R-McGregor; Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville; Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso; and Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio.

"We cannot allow families to be without needed health coverage in a time of medical crisis or emergency," Senator Zaffirini said. "Because many policies limit their coverage to less than half the cost of prosthetic devices or do not include coverage, impacted families may suffer from long-standing negative financial impacts. I look forward to working with my colleagues to champion the needs of not only persons who have lost limbs, but also of their families."

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