Beginning next year, health insurance policies written in Louisiana would have to provide at least $50,000 worth of coverage for those who need artificial limbs, under legislation approved 26-7 by the state Senate.
There was little discussion about the bill on the Senate floor although some business and insurance interests had fought the measure earlier in the session, objecting to mandates that they said could drive up insurance costs.
The vote puts the bill close to final legislative passage. Already approved 69-32 in the House, it needs one more routine House vote on Senate language changes for final passage. Then it would go to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who would have to decide whether to sign or veto it.
Opponents have cited information from the state insurance department that the requirement could cost insurers in the state more than $7 million a year. Backers of the bill by Rep. Charles Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said those estimates were overblown and that such mandates in other states have ended up adding between 12 cents and 35 cents per month to insurance premiums.
Proponents, including Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, have repeatedly pointed to the case of would-be good Samaritan Carl Falconer, who lost both legs when he was hit by a car after stopping to help a woman change a flat tire. Erdey told the Senate on that Falconer found out prosthetics would cost him $40,000 apiece.
“His health insurance would only pay $5,000 max,” Erdey said.
HB318 can be viewed at www.legis.state.la.us