Anthem Blue Cross’s Announcement That It Will Temporarily Suspend a 39% Health Insurance Rate Increase Should Not Deter Immediate Legislative Action

By The Joplin Globe, Mo.

Feb. 11–Sometimes it takes only one voice to start a chorus.

The voice in today’s editorial belongs to Tamara Beinlich.

Beinlich, 52, of rural Joplin, refused to silently play the victim when her vehicle was hit by an uninsured driver from Oklahoma. A loophole in Missouri law allowed him to drive away with only a traffic citation for running a light. Meanwhile, Beinlich’s only source of transportation and her pride and joy, a 1994 Blazer, was towed away.

Her story appeared in the Globe on Dec. 5 and prompted considerable outrage from the community. It also spurred one of our readers to help her buy parts to fix the vehicle. The Blazer is up and running, but the frame is bent and Beinlich can’t afford to have it fixed.

Here’s the real rub. Beinlich, even on her fixed income, managed to carry liability insurance. Had she hit the Oklahoma driver, his repairs would have been covered. The out-of-state driver, in this case, could not even be cited for failing to carry insurance because Missouri law requires that only vehicles registered in Missouri be insured.

Beinlich wrote letters and contacted lawmakers in hopes that if not her Blazer, at least the law would be fixed. Our readers also wrote letters.

State Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, and state Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, introduced bills last week in the Missouri Senate and House seeking to rectify the matter. Both bills would require out-of-state drivers to abide by the auto insurance laws of their own states and would allow Missouri law enforcement to hold them responsible for not having auto insurance.

Under the bills introduced in the Legislature, drivers who are not in compliance with their own state’s auto insurance requirements would be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor and would be subject to suspension of their driving privileges in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Revenue also would notify the state in which they reside of the offense. The bills now must be assigned to committees.

We urge swift passage of these bills and offer up our thanks to all those involved in bringing the loophole to the attention of our lawmakers.

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