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A bill to prohibit health insurance companies from denying policies and care to victims of domestic violence is being killed in a House committee.
Senate Bill 1251 passed the Senate 45-0 but faces a deadline Wednesday to be heard in the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee. Today is the deadline for bills to be added to tomorrow’s agenda.
The committee chair, Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa, refuses to hear this common-sense reform.
Dan Sullivan is allowing women to be victimized twice. As usual, he is standing with the selfish interests of the insurance industry.
Did Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee allow this bill out of the Senate because he knew it was certain to be killed in the House, or did the House leadership act independently? What are they so afraid of?
Despite claims to the contrary, insurance companies in Oklahoma have denied policies and coverage to victims of domestic violence.
Currently the insurance commissioner is using her regulatory authority to not allow insurers to ask about one’s status as a victim of domestic violence on policy applications. However, it’s unlikely that this prohibition was in place in the past (consider her predecessors’ records for a moment), and nothing prohibits insurance companies who have issued policies from refusing to cover domestic violence-related injuries.
Also, because this is a regulatory interpretation, it can be overturned by the Legislature or simply changed internally. That’s why we need a law on the books.
Here are some things to consider:
In 2008 there were more than 23,000 reports of domestic violence in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Oklahoma is one of only eight states without a law to prohibit insurance companies from considering one’s status as a victim of domestic violence when deciding whether to issue a policy or pay a claim.
By allowing this practice, the state Legislature is making things even worse in a state that already suffers from far too much domestic violence.
The last thing women who have been abused should worry about is whether their insurance company will pay their claim or whether they’ll be able to get insurance in the future.
Allowing domestic violence to factor into insurance decisions makes abused women less likely to seek assistance and end dangerous relationships.
Insurance companies are shifting the cost of health care onto policyholders and, ultimately, taxpayers when they refuse to cover domestic violence.
Other states, like Arkansas, have embraced this bill. In Oklahoma, we kill even incremental consumer-friendly reforms.