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Ahead of Mississippi

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The state of Mississippi still allows insurance companies to consider “domestic abuse” as a pre-existing condition for which health insurance can be denied, according to the Jackson Free  Press. The newspaper added that the great majority of states prohibit this practice, and that Arkansas joined the majority in April.

Arkansas did that with legislative approval of Act 619, which adds “status as a victim of domestic abuse” to a list of things insurance companies can't use as reasons to deny coverage. Race, sex and national origin were among the factors already on the list. Rep. Lindsley Smith of Fayetteville, the leading sponsor of Act 619, said that the original bill went into more detail but that negotiations with interested parties, including state Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford, produced an agreement that rules for enforcement of the new prohibition would be left to the insurance commissioner. A former legislator, Bradford sponsored legislation giving financial aid to domestic-abuse centers, and he's trusted by domestic-abuse activists.

Bradford said last week that he hasn't yet promulgated such rules but he's prepared to do so as soon as he finds a case of domestic abuse being cited as a pre-existing condition. He said he didn't know that any such case had ever occurred in Arkansas, but that domestic-abuse activists nationwide wanted a prohibition written into the law. Act 619 says that insurance can't be denied solely because of a person's “status as a victim of domestic abuse.” But if a person suffered an injury from domestic abuse — an injured vertebra, for example — an insurance company still could cite the injury itself as a pre-existing condition. 

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