BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                            Martha M. Escutia, Chair
                           2003-2004 Regular Session


          AB 2208                                                A
          Assembly Member Kehoe                                  B
          As Amended April 27, 2004
          Hearing Date:  June 29, 2004                           2
          Health and Safety Code; Insurance Code                 2
          GMO:cjt                                                0
                                                                 8


                                     SUBJECT
                                         
                   Domestic Partnerships: Insurance Benefits

                                   DESCRIPTION  

          The bill would:
           conform existing law that extends health benefits to  
            domestic partners to the requirements of the Domestic  
            Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, to  
            ensure that registered domestic partners of employees and  
            subscribers are provided insurance coverage to the same  
            extent and under the same terms and conditions as spouses  
            of employees and subscribers, rather than as dependents;
           require 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;
           preclude the offer of a policy that provides coverage for  
            a domestic partner if it is not equal to that offered to  
            a spouse of an insured or policyholder

                                    BACKGROUND  

          AB 25 (Migden, Chap. 893, Stats. 2001) established domestic  
          partnerships in the state and conferred certain rights to  
          registered domestic partners.  That bill also required a  
          group health service plan and a policy of disability  
          insurance that provides medical, hospital or surgical  
          expenses benefits to offer coverage to employers and  
          guaranteed associations for the domestic partner of an  
                                                                 
          (more)



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          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.

          Last year, AB 205 (Goldberg, Ch. 421, Stats. 2003) recast  
          AB 25 and expanded the rights of registered domestic  
          partners in areas of property ownership, inheritance  
          rights, family relationships, and for the most part  
          provided rights to domestic partners that are equal to  
          those conferred on spouses.

                             CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
           
           Existing law  , the Domestic Partner Rights and  
          Responsibilities Act, delineates the rights and  
          responsibilities of registered domestic partners. [Family  
          Code 
          Sec. 297.5.]

           Existing law  requires group health care service plans and  
          group health insurance policies that provide medical,  
          hospital and surgical expense benefits to provide coverage  
          to domestic partners of employees, subscribers or  
          policyholders to the same extent and under the same terms  
          and conditions as are provided to spouses of employees,  
          subscribers or policyholders. [Ins. Code Sec. 10121.7.]   
          Existing law provides that the employer may require  
          evidence of the registration of the domestic partnership or  
          notice of its termination.

           This bill  would require a health care service plan and a  
          health insurance policy to provide to the domestic partner  
          of an employee or subscriber the same coverage it provides  
          to the spouse of an employee or subscriber and would  
          prohibit a plan or policy from offering or providing  
          coverage to a domestic partner that is not equal to the  
          coverage provided to the spouse of an employee or  
          subscriber.
           
          This bill  would require that every policy issued, amended,  
          delivered, or renewed in the state provide coverage for the  
          domestic partner of the insured or policyholder that is  
          equal to, and subject to the same terms and conditions as  
          coverage provided to the spouse of an insured or  
                                                                       




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          policyholder.

           This bill  would deem that a policy that is issued, amended,  
          delivered, or renewed in this state on or after January 1,  
          2005 provides coverage for domestic partners that is equal  
          to the coverage provided to a spouse of an insured or  
          policyholder.
                                         
                                    COMMENT
           
          1.    Need for the bill  

             The Insurance Commissioner and Equality California are  
             the co-sponsors of  AB 2208.

             The Commissioner, John Garamendi, contends that AB 2208  
             merely conforms insurance statutes to AB 205 and  
             establishes a necessary and consistent standard of  
             non-discrimination in insurance.
             Equality California, on the other hand, argues that  
             lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents of the  
             state are not always covered under their partner's  
             insurance policies in the same way spouses are covered.   
             Thus, these domestic partners are denied benefits, pay  
             higher premiums, or are denied coverage. "[AB 2208] 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."

          2.     Health insurance coverage equalized, as would all  
          other types of insurance

             Current law already provides equal health plan or health  
            insurance coverage to domestic partners, but as  
            dependents of the employee, subscriber, or policyholders.  
             This bill would replace the reference to "dependent"  
            with "spouse," thus conforming these provisions to AB  
            205, which gave registered domestic partners rights  
            identical to those of spouses.

            Further, this bill would make all types of insurance  
            (car, house, homeowner's, life) that provides coverage to  
            a spouse available to registered domestic partners and  
                                                                       




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            would require the policy issuers to offer no less than  
            the same coverage to domestic partners as they give to  
            spouses.  This provision would apply to all policies  
            issued, amended, renewed or delivered in this state on or  
            after January 1, 2005. 

            This is significant because in some cases, such as life  
            insurance, the coverages offered to a spouse are greater  
            than the coverages offered to a dependent.  Presumably,  
            the enrollee or the enrollee's employer would pay the  
            differences in any additional coverage costs.

            AB 2208 would also deem all policies issued, renewed,  
            amended or delivered on or after January 1, 2005 to  
            contain provisions consistent with this bill with respect  
            to coverage provided to a registered domestic partner.   
            In other words, any interpretation of a policy that would  
            deny coverage to a domestic partner because the domestic  
            partner is not a named "spouse" would be invalid, even  
            though those policies were issued pre-January 1, 2005, if  
            the policy is renewed or amended.  Most insurance  
            policies relating to automobiles, or other property are  
            renewed on an annual or semi-annual basis, so that  
            eventually, all insurance policies would have to comply  
            with this general rule.

          3.    Ask for verification of registration or termination  
            only if married insureds or subscribers are also asked
           
            Current law provides that a health care service plan or  
            health insurance policy issuer may require that the  
            insured or subscriber verify the status of the domestic  
            partnership.  AB 2208 would allow this inquiry only if  
            the employer asks a married employee to provide the same  
            information.  

          4.    Opposition arguments

             The Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) opposes AB 2208,  
            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  
                                                                       




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            convictions against it.  CRI further suggests that this  
            bill is disrespectful and intolerant of those who believe  
            homosexuality is wrong.

            Other opponents point to increased health risks because  
            of same-sex relationships and that the bill would cause  
            increased costs to insurers and subscribers.

          5.    Technical amendments

             The term "domestic partner" should be amended to  
            "registered domestic partner" in order to conform with  
            both AB 25 and AB 205.

            The author also wishes to add the following as  
            co-authors: Senators Romero, Speier, and Soto and  
            Assembly Member Levine.

          Support:  California Nurses Association; California  
          Commission on the Status of 
                 Women; Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund;  
          National Center 
                 for Lesbian Rights; Office of the Attorney General;  
          American Civil 
                 Liberties Union; California Schools Employees  
          Association; California 
                 National Organization for Women; California Labor  
          Federation; Anti-
                 Defamation League; Transgender Law Center;  
          California Medical 
                 Association; Our Family Coalition; Mexican American  
          Legal Defense 
                 and Educational Fund; The San Francisco Lesbian Gay  
          Bisexual 
                 Transgender Community Center; Parents, Families, and  
          Friends of 
                 Lesbian and Gays, Ventura County; San Francisco Aids  
          Foundation; 
                 Being Alive Los Angeles, Inc.; Aids Project Los  
          Angeles; Metropolitan 
                 Community Church, Los Angeles; Southern California  
          Regional 
                 Chapter of Pride at Work; California Teachers  
          Association; Stonewall 
                 Democratic Club of Greater Sacramento; The Legal Aid  
                                                                       




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          Society; 
                 California Retired Teachers Association; California  
          State Employees 
                 Association; one individual

          Opposition:  Campaign for California Families; Capitol  
          Resource Institute; 
                    Concerned Women for America
           
                                    HISTORY
           
          Source:  Insurance Commissioner and Equality California

          Related Pending Legislation:  None Known

          Prior Legislation:  See Background AB 25 (Migden, Ch. 893,  
          Stats. 2001)
                             See Background AB 205 (Goldberg, Ch.  
          421,Stats. 2003

          Prior Vote:  Asm. L. Gov. (Ayes 8 , Noes 3 )
                        Asm. Appr. (Ayes 16, Noes 4)
                        Asm. Flr. (Ayes 46, Noes 31)

                    
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