Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reprise of the No-Fault Intoxication Exclusion Cut-Back Bill Has Passed the NYS Senate

It's baaaaack.  And it looks like it may both pass and be signed into law this time.

Some will recall that back in September of 2008, Governor Paterson vetoed the 2008 version of the no-fault intoxication exclusion cut-back bill that removed the exclusion of health care service expenses under Insurance Law § 5102(a)(1) if a person were injured as a result of operating a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition or while his ability to operate such vehicle was impaired by the use of a drug within the meaning of Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1192.  In his veto memorandum, however, Governor Paterson expressed his belief that the "bill's goals are sound" and instructed his staff and interested parties to "help enact a new bill that accomplishes the intended a manner that will protect the interests of the health service providers, injured patients and the public."

This is that new bill, S7854 Breslin, and it passed the state Senate by a vote of 58-0 on June 18, 2010.  This bill's identical Assembly twin, A1116 Dinowicz, went to its Rules Committee on Monday, June 28th, and is expected to come out for a vote soon.

The 2010 version of the cut-back bill limits the exception to the intoxication exclusion to the payment of "necessary emergency health services rendered in a general hospital, as defined in [New York Public Health Law § 2801(10)] including ambulance services attendant thereto and related medical screening."  As its 2008 predecessor did, it also provides that where a covered person is found to have violated V&T § 1192, the no-fault insurer may sue the covered person to recover the amount of first party benefits paid or payable for that person.

As one who has suspected that some hospitals play hide the toxicology report with no-fault insurers, I had to smile when reading this sentence in the sponsors' Statement in Support: 
By permitting reimbursement for necessary related medical screenings, such as blood alcohol and drug tests, more screenings will occur, underlying drug or alcohol problems will be more frequently identified and addressed, and ultimately fewer drug or alcohol-related injuries will occur.  
We'll see.

If enacted, this bill will take effect 180 days after enactment and will apply to all policies that must afford no-fault insurance which are issued, renewed, modified, altered or amended on or after such date.  Does anyone out there think New York no-fault insurers won't be paying for emergency services to intoxicated persons soon?

Eins, zwei, drei, zuffa!

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