Pre-existing health insurance riders gain

The New Hampshire House voted Tuesday to allow health insurers to offer individual policies containing riders that exempt those policies from covering a policyholder’s pre-existing conditions.

The House voted overwhelmingly, 333-16, to pass the bill. Supporters argued that even limited insurance is better than no insurance at all, and the riders would prevent some customers from being classified in the assigned risk pool, thereby lowering their insurance cost.

Opponents maintained that the riders are just a way of underinsuring those without any group coverage, taking advantage of the most vulnerable population when it comes to health insurance.

Lawmakers also voted, 237-115, against a bill that would require group insurers to pay for infertility treatments. While supporters said that such treatments are now routine and the cost is actually stabilizing, critics argued that it is just another mandate driving up insurance premiums, particularly since the measure under consideration bills doesn’t limit repetitive coverage or coverage for older women.

In other action, the House:

• Passed a bill, 251-97, prohibiting retaliating rent increases in manufactured home parks. Opponents said it gave the tenants too much power compared to the park owners.
• Passed by a voice vote a bill that would license charitable gaming operators, ranging from bingo to Texas Hold ‘Em poker. Opponents said that the bill didn’t go far enough and didn’t give the New Hampshire Pari-Mutuel Commission the power to fine, and removing a section of the bill that mandated that 35 percent of gross revenues must go to charities.
• Passed two bills relating to mercury. One would forbid dumping mercury products in a landfill. A business would either have to recycle the product or dispose of it as hazardous waste. The other would phase out the sale of certain types of mercury-containing products, such as measuring devise, thermometers, flow meters, switches, relays and thermostats. Sponsors of the bill said that there are alternatives available in most cases, and the bill puts an exemption process in place if there isn’t one. – BOB SANDERS

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