05NR03 - Highway Bill Passes US House - US Senate Introduces HIPAA Fix

Motorcycle Riders Foundation
P.O. Box 1808
Washington, DC 20013-1808
202-546-0983 (voice)
202-546-0986 (fax)
http://www.mrf.org (website)

Contact: Jeff Hennie, MRF Vice President - Government Relations
jeff@mrf.org (e-mail)

March 16, 2005

#05NR03 - Highway Bill Passes US House - US Senate Introduces HIPAA Fix

The US House of Representatives passed a comprehensive Highway and Mass Transit package (HR 3) Thursday afternoon. The measure cleared the chamber with 417 members voting in favor and 9 opposing.

"I'm glad to see such overwhelming support for our bill today in the House," House Highway Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI) said. "Now we need the Senate to move quickly so that we can get to conference to produce a long term program in support of our nationís vital infrastructure."

"The tremendous majority is evidence of how badly this long overdue legislation is needed around the country," said Jeff Hennie Vice President of Government Relations for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF). The package has been forthcoming since October 2003, when the last bill expired.

The bill contains several motorcycle safety provisions that aim to reduce accidents and save lives on our nations roads through education and sound road design. The motorcycle language was included after heavy lobbing efforts by the MRF and many State Motorcycle Rights Organizations (SMROís).

The MRF would like to extend the highest praises to all of the SMROís and individuals who worked for the inclusion of the motorcycle safety language.

The current highway and mass transit programs have been operating on a series of extensions, the current extension expires on May 31, 2005. Jeff Hennie also noted, "TEA- LU is a groundbreaking achievement for motorcycle safety, for the first time in recent history individual states will be eligible for federal funding, in the form a grant, to advance or implement motorcycle training and awareness programs".

The Senate has yet to introduce similar legislation, but is expected to in the near future. Following passage of the Senate counterpart, key lawmakers will be named from both chambers to conference the bill where the differences between the measures will be compromised.

Just over two months remain before the sixth and current extension expires. Some lawmakers and lobbyists agree that should a final agreement not be reached by that date the chances of seeing a highway bill in this congress are very slim. However, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Don Young (R-AK) has vowed to fight to the end in order to get the measure done. Young will preside over the conference committee once the Senate has passed their version of the legislation

The MRF will continue to fight for your freedoms and update you on the status of the surface transportation bill and how it will affect motorcyclists.


United States Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) recently re-introduced legislation, S. 577, to close the loophole that has allowed health insurance companies to discriminate against motorcyclists when it comes to paying for health insurance benefits, identical legislation cleared the chamber last congress.

S. 577 directly address the current loophole, opened by federal regulators in 2001, that makes it possible for health care benefits to be denied solely based on the source of the injury. Some of the activities that are being targeted by the health insurance providers as sources of injuries not to supply insurance coverage for are motorcycling, horseback riding, skiing and ATV use.

"Snowmobilers and others participating in legal recreational or transportation activities deserve equal protection under our insurance laws. Given the amount Americans pay for health insurance, they should be assured that they will receive the same coverage and benefits whether they break their arm snowmobiling or from falling down the stairs," Senator Collins said. "The legislation introduced will close the loophole that allows insurers to deny an individual coverage for an injury resulting from a common, legal recreational activity."

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), teamed up with Senator Collins to introduce the bi-partisan legislation. The duo led the charge last congress as well.

"Wisconsin offers an incredible setting for transportation and recreational activities like motorcycling, skiing and snowmobiling," Senator Feingold said. "People who take pleasure in these and other outdoor activities should not be deterred from enjoying them because of a health insurance loophole. This bipartisan legislation will offer outdoor recreation lovers the protection they deserve."

S. 577 was passed out of committee and out of the entire Senate chamber with no opposition last congress, that is a possibility again this congress, but not without your help. The MRF urges you to ask your United States Senator to sign on as a co-sponsor to S. 577, The HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act. You can view the text, list of co-sponsors, and status of the legislation through the following website: http://thomas.loc.gov/ You can also call the United States Capitol at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator.

The Easter recess begins Friday the 18th of March and runs through April 4th. Often Members of the US House and Senate use the break to hold town hall meetings, roundtable discussions or open houses to meet with constituents back home. Call your Federal elected officials and inquire if there will be any forums that you may attend. If the answer is yes, notify the MRF so we can help get the word out to motorcyclists in your area.


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(c)All Information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation, incorporated in 1987, is a membership-based, national motorcyclists' rights organization headquartered in Washington, DC. The first motorcyclists' rights organization to establish a full-time presence in Washington, DC, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is the only Washington voice devoted exclusively to the street rider. The MRF established MRFPAC in the early 1990s to advocate the election of candidates who would champion the cause of rider safety and rider freedom.

The MRF proudly claims state motorcyclists' rights organizations and the very founders of the American riders' rights movement among its leading members. The MRF is involved in federal and state legislation and regulations, motorcycling safety education, training, and public awareness. The MRF provides members and state motorcyclists' rights organizations with direction and information, and sponsors annual regional and national educational seminars for motorcyclists rights activists, as well as publishing a bi-monthly newsletter, THE MRF REPORTS.

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