Aug 14, 2012
SENATOR ROBERT DUNCAN RECEIVES 2011 LEGISLATIVE CHAMPION AWARD
National Multiple Sclerosis Society Honors His Efforts on Behalf of Texans Living With Chronic Illnesses
AUSTIN – Today, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society announced that Senator Robert Duncan, (R – Lubbock) has been honored with the 2011 Texas Legislative Champion Award for his leadership on behalf of Texans living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other chronic illnesses. The award was presented by Texans living with MS in the Senator’s district and hometown of Lubbock, TX.
“As a Texan living with MS, I am grateful for Sen. Duncan’s hard work and ability to get things done in Austin,” said Natalie Steadman from Lubbock. “We are fortunate to have him in the Texas Senate and appreciate his willingness to take the lead on policies that can help improve the lives of families affected by a chronic illness like MS. It is our privilege to honor him as our legislative champion.”
“I admire the Texans that I meet who fight MS and other chronic illnesses on a daily basis. Their strength is inspiring.” Sen. Duncan said. “It’s an honor to be recognized as a legislative champion and I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of this important cause.”
During the 2011 session of the Texas Legislature, Sen. Duncan sponsored House Bill 3017, also known as the Banning Discretionary Clauses Act. The bill was filed by in the House by Representative John Smithee (R-Amarillo), Chairman of the Insurance Committee. The legislation prohibits insurance companies from unfairly interpreting the terms of their policies to exclude policy holders from coverage for illnesses or conditions for which they are covered. It also amends language in the policies that made overturning an insurer’s decision in court more difficult for a consumer.
Prior to this legislation, discretionary clauses caused persons living with MS to be denied benefits for which they were paying and believed were entitled to under their policy. This was especially detrimental for people living with a chronic disease or a disability such as MS, particularly if a person is unable to work.
MS is a chronic, progressive disease of the central nervous system. The unpredictable nature of the disease can be a major challenge. Most people with MS live a normal life span, though they face increasing limitations over time. For others, the onset of symptoms can be rapid and severely impact their daily life.
For those fortunate enough to have a long-term care insurance policy, the validity of that policy at a time when that person needs long-term services is critical. The possibility of being unexpectedly and unfairly denied benefits can add an additional emotional and financial strain of living with MS. Thanks to Sen. Duncan; all Texans can count on insurance policies that will be there when they need it.
The bill was passed unanimously by the House Insurance Committee and was signed into law on June 17, 2011. Texas is now one of 23 states that prohibit the use of a discretionary clause provision in insurance policies.