BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 2208
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   March 30, 2004

                            ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HEALTH
                                 Rebecca Cohn, Chair
                 AB 2208 (Kehoe) - As Introduced:  February 18, 2004
           
          SUBJECT  :   Health Care and Insurance Benefits.

           SUMMARY  :   Clarifies existing law that extends health care  
          benefits to domestic partners.  Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Requires group health care service plans and  health insurance  
            policies to provide equal coverage to the domestic partner of  
            an employee or subscriber with the same terms and conditions  
            that are provided to a spouse of an employee or subscriber if  
            that plan or policy offers spousal benefits;

          2)Precludes plans and policies from offering or providing  
            coverage to a domestic partner that is not equal to that  
            offered or provided to the spouse of an employee or  
            subscriber;

          3)Allows health care service plans and health insurance policies  
            to require verification of a domestic partnership only if it  
            requests verification of marital status;

          4)Requires insurance policies to provide coverage for domestic  
            partners that are equal to the coverage provided to spouses  
            and precludes a policy from offering to provide coverage for a  
            domestic partner if that coverage is not equal to that offered  
            to a spouse;

          5)Applies only to plans or policies issued, amended, delivered,  
            or renewed on or after January 1, 2005; 

          6)Replaces the "dependent" with "spouse" when referring to  
            health benefits; and,

          7)Renames a policy of "disability" insurance to a policy of  
            "health" insurance.

           EXISTING LAW  

          1)Requires group health insurance plans and disability insurance  
            policies to offer coverage to employers or guaranteed  
            associations, for the domestic partner of an employee or  







                                                                  AB 2208
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            subscriber to the same extent and subject to the same terms  
            and conditions as provided to a dependent of the employee or  
            subscriber.

          2)Defines "domestic partners" as two adults who have chosen to  
            share in a committed relationship.  Establishes domestic  
            partnerships in California when both persons file a  
            Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of  
            State.  Affords domestic partners the same rights,  
            protections, benefits, responsibilities, obligations, and  
            duties as are guaranteed to and imposed upon spouses.   
            Provides former domestic partners the same rights,  
            protections, benefits, responsibilities, obligations and  
            duties to as imposed upon former spouses.

          3)Requires every insurance policy that is issued, amended,  
            delivered or renewed in California to provide coverage for the  
            domestic partner of an insured or policyholder that is equal  
            to the same terms and conditions offered to a spouse of an  
            insured or policy holder.

           FISCAL EFFECT :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   

           1)PURPOSE OF THE BILL  .  According to the author, this bill  
            conforms provisions in the Health and Safety and Insurance  
            Codes to the requirements made in AB 205 (Goldberg), Chapter  
            421, Statutes of 2003.  It also brings those provisions in  
            line with requirements made in existing non-discrimination  
            provisions that ensure that domestic partners receive the same  
            insurance coverage and spouses.

           2)SUPPORT  .  The bill is cosponsored by Insurance Commissioner  
            John Garamendi, who states the bill simply conforms insurance  
            statutes with AB 205 and establishes a necessary and  
            consistent standard of non-discrimination in insurance.   
            Equality California, the other cosponsor of the bill, suggests  
            that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)  
            Californians are not always covered under their partner's  
            insurance policies in the same way spouses are covered.  As a  
            result, LGBT Californians are being denied benefits, paying  
            discriminatory higher premiums, or being denied coverage.   
            This bill will affirms existing law by bringing insurance  
            coverage in line with requirements made under AB 205.  The  
            California National Organization of Women agrees that this  







                                                                  AB 2208
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            measure would clarify the law to afford domestic partners  
            equal insurance coverage.

           3)OPPOSITION  .  The Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) is opposed  
            to the bill because they believe it would force private  
            businesses to pay for same-sex relationships to the same  
            degree as marriage.  In addition, CRI is concerned that this  
            clarification in the law will result in higher employer costs  
            and force employers to recognize domestic partnerships to the  
            same degree as marriage, despite religious or moral  
            convictions against it.  CRI further suggests that this bill  
            is disrespectful and intolerant of those who believe  
            homosexuality is wrong.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Equality California (cosponsor)
          Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi (cosponsor)
          American Civil Liberties Union
          California Department of Justice
          California Labor Federation 
          California National Organization of Women
          California School Employees Association
          Lamda Letters Project

           Opposition 
           
          Capitol Resource Institute
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Clara Craven / HEALTH / (916) 319-2097