Dear Friend of Texans Standing Tall,
Your action is needed – before 1:30 on this coming Tuesday, April 12!
Please be aware of the opportunity to submit testimony at an upcoming House Committee on Insurance hearing on House Bill 758 related to a repeal of the State's alcohol exclusion law (UPPL as some you know it). Submitting testimony is an important step in giving the prevention community voice on this issue. Rep. Craig Eiland is the bill author and Vice Chair of the Committee.
In this email you will find:
• Information about the hearing
• How to prepare testimony
• Talking points on the issue
You can access the Alcohol Exclusion Law Issue Brief on the TST website under "Get Equipped."
Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 1:30 AM
Austin, Capitol Extension Bldg., Room E2.026
Please contact TST if you plan to attend so we can coordinate efforts. If you are unable to attend in person you may contact members of the committee directly via email. If you do send an email, please copy firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Send Testimony/Comments – Not in Person:
• Email or fax your testimony to each individual representative on the committee.
• You can also place a phone call stating your position to each office.
House Insurance Committee Members
Public Hearings & Submitting Testimony
Public hearings are an opportunity to voice your opinion through testimony (written or spoken) in a formal setting.
As a general rule, written testimony should be no more than two typed pages, single-spaced. Write clearly and concisely and avoid using jargon.
Anticipate that the staffers and legislators that read your testimony are intelligent and well educated, but will not have professional experience in the prevention field.
Writing your testimony
Write it out first. Whether you plan to give your testimony vocally or in writing, write it out and give a copy to each committee member. Identify yourself and explain why the issue is important to you. For example, your testimony might begin: "My name is [Your Name] and I am a member of Texans Standing Tall, the statewide coalition to make alcohol, tobacco and other drugs irrelevant in the lives of youth. As a parent underage drinking is very important to me."
Thank the Committee for their time. Include a local anecdote, in five sentences or less, demonstrating your opinion on repealing the alcohol exclusion law in Texas. Briefly educate the decision makers on your opinion regarding repeal of the alcohol exclusion law.
Before attending a public meeting:
• Know the logistics.
• Where is the hearing? Is space limited? What time does it start/end? Where do I park? Will I need to do a lot of walking?
• Rehearse what you plan to say.
• Practicing in front of others or a mirror works wonders.
• Time yourself. If they have a time limit they typically will cut you off if you don't finish on time. If they have a lot of people speaking, they appreciate brevity.
• Prepare your materials.
• Prepare a written copy of your testimony and any additional information to leave the committee. Plan ahead to make sure you are bringing the right number, the best information on the issue, AND that you're not overwhelming them with paperwork. One issue brief or fact sheet and another document or report is more than enough.
• Bring enough copies for staff as well – especially if you know they are the committee coordinator or the staffer responsible for your particular issue.
Tips for giving your testimony:
· Use your written testimony as a script.
Writing out your testimony in advance will help.
· Be polite and courteous!
This includes dressing appropriately and thanking the committee for their time.
· Don't use acronyms and jargon.
Using technical and industry specific language will cause confusion.
· Take notes!
If a committee member wants more information, write it down so you don't forget.
Deliver the information promised as soon as possible.
After giving your testimony:
· If you mail your written testimony, a few days later call the committee clerk/staffer to make sure that it was received.
· If you fax or email the testimony, call the same day.
· Keep a copy for yourself, and please send a copy of your testimony to Texans Standing Tall for our files.
Talking Points on HB 758
The information below can be used as a guideline to create your own argument.
What is the status in Texas?
The Texas Policy Provision is 1201.227. POLICY PROVISION: INTOXICANTS AND NARCOTICS. An individual accident and health insurance policy must contain the following provision if the policy addresses the subject matter of the provision: " Intoxicants and Narcotics: The insurer is not liable for any loss sustained or contracted in consequence of the insured's being intoxicated or under the influence of any narcotic unless the narcotic is administered on the advice of a physician."
Remember to write/speak from your perspective and include facts and supporting data in your letter, meeting, or testimony that indicate your position on repeal of the Texas alcohol exclusion law.
The key points on the Alcohol Exclusion Law are:
• Alcohol Exclusion Laws were created with good intentions but had the opposite of their intended effect and have actually made it more difficult to reduce drug and alcohol abuse.
• There is absolutely no evidence that Alcohol Exclusion Laws reduce drunk driving.
• The Alcohol Exclusion Law discourages hospitals from gathering data on drug and alcohol use or abuse for fear that it will result in nonpayment.
• Because hospitals are not gathering drug and alcohol abuse data, patients are not being given opportunities for screening and brief intervention, resulting in massive negative consequences to public health and significant public expense.
•Because hospitals are not gathering adequate drug and alcohol abuse data, a vital source of information for the development, implementation, and evaluation of substance abuse prevention and reduction strategies is being lost.
•Because it hinders effective treatment and prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, the Alcohol Exclusion Law actually results in higher, not lower, health care costs.
• You do not have to be "over the legal limit" of alcohol use for insurance to deny payment – any alcohol in the blood is cause for denying payment.
•You do not have to break the law for insurance to deny payment. You could have a glass of wine with dinner, step onto the sidewalk and sprain your ankle, go to the emergency room for care and insurance could deny payment if it is noted the injury occurred with alcohol in your system.
Talking Points on Negative Consequences:
• The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which drafted the original model legislation in the 1940s, has now publicly repudiated it and recommends repeal.
• It is estimated that about 30% of pregnant women admitted to emergency rooms in Texas are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, clearly presenting a severe danger to both mother and fetus. The Alcohol Exclusion Law prevents us from gaining a comprehensive picture of this serious issue as well as the opportunity to solve it.
• According to Dr. Larry Gentilello, as little as 30 minutes of post-screening counseling can reduce readmissions to a hospital by 48%. It is estimated that every dollar devoted to screening and brief intervention saves $3.81 in overall health care costs. The Alcohol Exclusion Law seriously discourages hospitals from offering such screening and brief intervention.
• The Alcohol Exclusion Law hinders law enforcement from effectively dealing with drunk driving, because the lack of hospital screening allows drunk drivers to escape detection. Typically, police officers do not follow ambulances from the scene of a crash to the hospital. Therefore, no arrest or legal consequences take place.
Texans Standing Tall
2211 South IH-35, Suite 201
Austin, Texas 78741