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Legislation aimed at health-care sharing ministries dies

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 16, 2021

Associated Press

BOISE — Lawmakers on Tuesday killed a proposed law intended to prevent healthcare sharing ministries from taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers.

The House State Affairs Committee killed the bill that would have tightened laws around the practice that draws people unable to afford private insurance and attracted to the low prices offered by healthcare sharing ministries.

A healthcare sharing ministry is a group of people with common ethical or religious beliefs who share healthcare costs. Many of the plans offer none of the protections of the Affordable Care Act.

Republican Rep. Rod Furniss told the committee that most healthcare sharing ministries operate ethically, but the state has what he called a dozen “bad actors.”

Some people report that they paid healthcare sharing ministries money, just like an insurance premium, but receive no help if they become ill.

The House State Affairs Committee doesn’t typically hear business-related legislation. However, the legislation that had previously passed out of a businesses committee had to be introduced again, Furniss said, to eliminate a duplicative section covered in federal law. It also faced a deadline.

But lawmakers on the committee said there were fraud laws in place to deal with wrongdoers, and they feared additional regulations on faith-based groups.

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