Texas Takes on the UPPL

The Texas Legislature Insurance Committee is considering a bill to change the state's Uniform Accident and Sickness Policy Provision Law (UPPL), which allows insurers to deny claims for care of injuries sustained while under the influence of alcohol. San Antonio and Houston are Demand Treatment! Partners.

Rep. Craig Eiland from Galveston, TX, introduced the bill, which has the support of the Texas Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the Texas Medical Society.

According to Dr. Robert N. Jones, President of the Texas Society of Addiction Medicine, emergency rooms and hospitals in Texas have the lowest rate of alcohol screening in the country. If a doctor conducts a positive screen, the doctor and hospital may not be reimbursed, and the patient might get a large medical bill. Without identification of alcohol problems, patients do not get identified for counseling or referral. A TSAM action alert “urges the public” to contact representatives about the bill.

“The insurance committee has given the bill a good reception,” said Larry Gentilello, MD, chief of trauma and surgical critical care at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. “I expect it will get out of committee.”

The UPPL is an insurance regulation in about 40 states. Dr. Gentilello works to repeal UPPLs and make screening a regular part of trauma care. He has helped with successful repeals in Maryland, North Carolina, and Vermont. For assistance repealing the law in your state, contact Larry Gentilello at (617) 632-9929 or lgentile@caregroup.harvard.edu

Repealing Uniform Accident and Sickness Policy Provision Laws in every state is one of the recommendations made by Join Together's national policy panel on ending discrimination against people with alcohol or drug problems. For a copy of the report, visit: www.jointogether.org/discrimination

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