Motorcycle Riders Foundation -- E-MAIL NEWSRELEASE
PO BOX 1808, Washington, DC 20013-1808
202-546-0983 (voice) 202-546-0986 (fax)
wyld@mrf.org (e-mail) http://www.mrf.org (website)

May 8, 2001 #01-1 Phone: 202-546-0983

Battle Likely Shifts to the State Level

Washington, D.C. … After an exhaustive review following appeals from motorcyclists nationwide, the Department of Health & Human Services is expected to report that it cannot find legal justification to disallow the interim final rules for nondiscrimination in health coverage, specifically the exclusion of benefits for injuries sustained while motorcycling.

Following a March 2001 personal visit paid on HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson by ABATE of Wisconsin accompanied by the Motorcycle Riders Foundation and the American Motorcyclist Association, the former Wisconsin Governor and avid motorcyclist ordered and participated in an extensive review of the law, particularly the statute and the report language of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

“While we regret the outcome, we can only thank Governor Thompson for his personal commitment in leading this exhaustive review,” said Thomas C. Wyld, MRF Vice President for Government Relations. “I am fully confident he explored every possibility and required that his staff dig as deeply as possible to find legal justification to disallow the rule. Our case was compelling, our grassroots effort superb, but there is a limit to what any government official can do, and that limit is set in the language of law.”

Coupled with the accompanying conference report, the language in this particular law indicates that individuals who participate in motorcycling and other activities cannot be excluded from enrolling in group market coverage or be charged a higher premium rate.

The statute also states, however, that the prohibition on discrimination with respect to eligibility shall not be construed to require a group health plan to provide particular benefits.

“Governor Thompson and his staff briefed us personally on this outcome,” observed MRF President Tom Pauley, “and we are grateful for this high level of open communication. One of the lessons learned here is that there is a reluctance on the part of Congress past and present, to set minimum federal health benefits, and this reluctance is reflected in the law. All major federal health care actions have never repealed the central cornerstone of the McCarren-Ferguson Act of the 1940s: that insurance, particularly benefits, shall be regulated by the states.

“In short, while federal opportunities may arise, the challenge that lies before us is to advance benefit protection for motorcyclists at the state level.”

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation expects the official HHS response to the many Congressional letters of support to be dispatched within days.
- MRF: My Ride is Freedom -

The first motorcyclists' rights organization to establish a full-time legislative advocacy presence in Washington. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation is the only Washington voice devoted exclusively to the street rider. MRF established MRFPAC in the early 1990s to advocate the election of candidates who would champion the cause of rider safety and rider freedom. MRF proudly claims state motorcyclists' rights organizations and the very founders of the American rider rights movement among its leading members. Motorcyclists worldwide can thumb-start their search for rider rights and safety on the web at www.mrf.org.

All information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation, incorporated in 1987, is an independent, membership-based national motorcyclists' rights organization headquartered in Washington D.C. which operates in co-partnership with State Motorcyclists' Rights Organizations nationwide. The MRF is involved in federal and state legislation and regulation, motorcycling safety education, training, licensing and public awareness. The MRF provides individual and SMRO member-volunteers with guidance, support and information to protect motorcyclists' rights and advance motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. The MRF sponsors annual regional and national educational seminars for motorcyclists' rights activists and publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, THE MRF REPORTS.

Voice: 202-546-0983, Fax: 202-546-0986, E-Mail: wyld@mrf.org, website: http://www.mrf.org

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