BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 2208
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 20, 2004

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                               Ellen M. Corbett, Chair
                    AB 2208 (Kehoe) - As Amended:  April 12, 2004
           
          SUBJECT  :  HEALTH CARE AND INSURANCE BENEFITS: DOMESTIC PARTNERS

          KEY ISSUE  :  SHOULD EXISTING LAW EXTENDING HEALTH CARE BENEFITS  
          TO DOMESTIC PARTNERS OF EMPLOYEES BE CONFORMED TO AB 205 OF 2003  
          SO THAT DOMESTIC PARTNERS ARE PROVIDED INSURANCE COVERAGE EQUAL  
          TO THAT PROVIDED TO SPOUSES OF EMPLOYEES? 

                                      SYNOPSIS
          
          This measure, co-sponsored by Insurance Commissioner John  
          Garamendi and Equality California, conforms existing law  
          extending health care benefits to domestic partners to the  
          requirements of AB 205 (Goldberg), Chap. 421, Stats. of 2003.   
          The measure brings existing non-discrimination provisions in the  
          Health and Safety Code and Insurance Code in line with AB 205 to  
          ensure domestic partners of employees and subscribers are  
          provided insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions  
          as spouses of employees and subscribers rather than as  
          dependents as the law currently treats them.  The bill also  
          requires insurance policies, such as automobile, life or  
          homeowner's insurance, to provide coverage for domestic partners  
          that is 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.  Supporters argue the measure is necessary to confirm  
          that group health care service plans and health insurance  
          policies must provide coverage to domestic partners of employees  
          equal to that provided to spouses of employees.  Opponents argue  
          that the bill will result in higher employer costs and force  
          employers to recognize domestic partnerships to the same extent  
          as marriage, despite religious or moral convictions against it.   
          The analysis contains suggested technical amendments. 

           SUMMARY  :  Enacts the California Insurance Equity for All  
          Families Act.  Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Requires group health care service plans and health insurance  
            policies to provide coverage to the domestic partner of an  
            employee or subscriber equal to that provided to a spouse of  








                                                                  AB 2208
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            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  
            also requests verification of marital status. 

          4)Requires insurance policies, such as automobile, life or  
            homeowner's insurance, to provide coverage for domestic  
            partners that is 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. 

          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  
            subscriber to the same extent and subject to the same terms  
            and conditions as provided to a dependent of the employee or  
            subscriber.  (Health and Safety Code section 1374.58 and  
            Insurance Code section 10121.7.)

          2)Provides domestic partners the same rights, protections,  
            benefits, responsibilities, obligations, and duties as are  
            guaranteed to and imposed upon spouses.  (Family Code section  
            297.5.)

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   The bill as currently in print is keyed fiscal.  


           COMMENTS  :  This measure was approved by the Assembly Health  
          Committee on March 30, 2004 by a vote of 12-5.  In support of  
          the bill, the author writes "The purpose of AB 2208 is to  
          clarify that group health care service plans and health  
          insurance policies must provide equal coverage to domestic  








                                                                  AB 2208
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          partners.  Although California law already requires that  
          domestic partners and spouses must be treated equally for  
          insurance purposes, domestic partners are often unlawfully  
          denied benefits, coverage, or are required to pay discriminatory  
          higher premiums. This bill will prohibit 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.  Specifically, AB 2208 provides that the domestic  
          partner of an employee or subscriber must be provided with the  
          same benefits, on the same terms and conditions, that are  
          provided to a spouse of an employee or subscriber if that plan  
          or policy offers spousal benefits."

           Brief Background on Relevant Legal Rights Conferred on  
          Registered Domestic Partners by AB 25 (Migden).   As the author  
          notes above, AB 25 (Migden) Chap. 893, Stats. of 2001, requires  
          a group health care service plan and a policy of disability  
          insurance that provides hospital, medical, or surgical expense  
          benefits to offer coverage to employers and guaranteed  
          associations for a domestic partner of an employee, subscriber,  
          insured, or policyholder to the same extent, and subject to the  
          same terms and conditions, as provided to a dependent of an  
          employee, subscriber, insured, or policyholder.  This bill  
          deletes "dependent" and replaces it with "spouse," ensuring that  
          domestic partners of employees or subscribers are provided the  
          same health care coverage as that provided to spouses of  
          employees or subscribers. 

          AB 25 also permitted a health care service plan or policy of  
          group disability insurance to verify the status of the domestic  
          partnership by requiring that the employee provide to the plan  
          or insurer a copy of a valid Declaration of Domestic Partnership  
          filed with the Secretary of State.  Under AB 25, the plan or  
          insurer may also require that the employee or insured notify the  
          plan or insurer upon the termination of the domestic  
          partnership.  This bill allows health care service plans and  
          health insurance policies to require verification of a domestic  
          partnership only if it also requests verification of marital  
          status and notification of dissolution from its employees with  
          covered spouses. 
           
          Technical Amendments Needed.   As mentioned above, this bill  
          allows health care service plans and health insurance policies  
          to require verification of a domestic partnership only if it  
          also requests verification of marital status and notification of  








                                                                  AB 2208
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          dissolution from its employees with covered spouses.  In order  
          to fully carry out this objective, the bill should be amended as  
          follows: 

          Revise (d)(2) on page 3, line 13 to read: (2)  Notwithstanding  
          paragraph (1), a health care service plan may require the  
          information described in that paragraph only if it also requests  
          verification from the employee or subscriber whose spouse is  
          provided coverage of marital status and notification of  its   
          dissolution of the marriage. 

          Revise (d)(2) on page 5, line 1 to read: (2) Notwithstanding  
          paragraph (1), a policy may require the information described in  
          that paragraph only if it also requests verification from the  
          employee, insured, or policyholder whose spouse is provided  
          coverage of marital status and notification of  its  dissolution  
          of the marriage. 

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:   Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, a  
          co-sponsor of the measure, states that the bill simply conforms  
          insurance statutes to AB 205 and establishes a necessary and  
          consistent standard of non-discrimination in insurance.   
          Equality California, also a co-sponsor 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 denied benefits, pay higher premiums, or are  
          denied coverage.  Equality California writes that the bill "will  
          establish a necessary and consistent standard of  
          non-discrimination in insurance in conformance with AB 205 by  
          ensuring that insurance companies treat domestic partners in the  
          same manner as spouses in the purchase of insurance."  The  
          California Nurses Association also supports the measure, stating  
          that it helps "to end discrimination against domestic partners  
          in California."

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :  The Capitol Resource Institute (CRI)  
          opposes the measure, arguing that 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  








                                                                  AB 2208
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          is wrong.  Concerned Women for America writes that "same-sex  
          relationships involve increased health risks" and the bill will  
          therefore result in increased costs to insurers and subscribers.  


           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Equality California (co-sponsor) 
          Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi (co-sponsor) 
          American Civil Liberties Union 
          Anti-Defamation League
          California Commission on the Status of Women
          California Department of Justice 
          California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
          California Medical Association 
          California National Organization of Women 
          California Nurses Association
          California School Employees Association 
          Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
          Lamda Letters Project 
          Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
          National Center for Lesbian Rights
          Office of the Attorney General 
          Our Family Coalition 
          Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG),  
          Ventura County
          San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center
          Transgender Law Center

           Opposition 
           
          Capitol Resource Institute
          Concerned Women for America
           
          Analysis Prepared by :    Saskia Kim / JUD. / (916) 319-2334