The Ohio legislature has voted overwhelmingly to repeal the state's so-called “UPPL Law,” which allowed insurers to deny health coverage to individuals injured while under the influence of alcohol. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland signed the measure into law on Jan. 5.
The Ohio Senate voted 32-0 in December to repeal the Uniform Individual Accident and Sickness Policy Provision Law (UPPL), followed by a 93-1 vote in the state House of Representatives. The UPPL repeal was included in a bill dealing with medical billing; the language was supported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the National Conference of Insurance Legislators as well as the Ohio State Medical Association and the Ohio Hospital Association.
Advocates of addiction screening and brief intervention programs have lobbied for repeal of UPPL laws in states across the U.S., saying that the laws deter doctors from screening patients for alcohol problems out of fear that their healthcare claims will be denied. Ohio became the 15th state to repeal its UPPL language. (The other states that have repealed their UPPL exclusion are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington.)
Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Director Angela Cornelius Dawson said the repeal “takes us, as a society, one step closer to eliminating the stigma that surrounds the disease of addiction and it will help to ensure all injured Ohioans receive timely and appropriate medical care.”