Changes Intended to Smooth MRMIP Operation

Assembly member Bill Monning (D-Carmel) is chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, but at yesterday’s meeting he went to the other side of the dais to present a piece of new legislation.

Monning’s AB 1526 would eliminate the annual and lifetime limits on coverage in the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program, popularly known as MRMIP.

“This bill is related to two goals I’ve had since I started in the Assembly. And number one is to make MRMIP more affordable for people who are in dire need of it,” Monning said. “And the other goal was, to actually meet Mister Mip.”

Monning said the change is temporary but necessary because people who exceed the spending caps are really sick — so it’s the time they need that coverage most.

“This is a program for people who are essentially uninsurable,” Monning said. “When the Affordable Care Act is implemented [in 2014], insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage for preexisting conditions. But in the meantime, this helps make the program a little more affordable, eliminates the caps on catastrophic illness and also eases some of the paperwork to become eligible.”

Jeanie Esajian, deputy director for legislation and external affairs at MRMIB — the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board —  which oversees MRMIP, explained that the board endorsed elimination of the cap limits, as well as allowing a letter from a licensed care provider qualify an applicant for eligibility, rather than the current system, which requires a denial from an insurance company.

“Only about 1% of our clients reach the benefit limit,” Esajian said. “The people who do reach that limit often have to forgo needed health care or incur substantial cost [to get it].”

“It’s rare for people to exceed the $75,000 cap, but when they do it’s disastrous,” Monning said. “When these limits hit, they hurt and hurt badly.”

AB 1526 was passed and now heads to Assembly Appropriations.

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