Human Services

Public Assistance Act

SECTION 40-6-29

§ 40-6-29. Health care benefits – Employers – Discrimination against public assistance recipients.

(a) No employer in the state who shall hire, contract with, or employ an individual (hereinafter "recipient") who has been determined eligible to receive public assistance or medical assistance under chapters 6 and 5.1 and 8.4 of this title, or chapter 12.3 of title 42 and/or title XIX of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq., shall discriminate against the recipient(s) on the basis that the recipient(s) receive health care coverage as an element of their eligibility under those chapters and act.

(b) The department of human services is hereby authorized and directed to amend its regulations and any appropriate state plan(s) pursuant to the federal Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 301 et seq., to provide for imposition of a fine on the failure of any employer to comply with the requirements of this section.

(c) The amount of the fine imposed by subsection (b) of this section shall be equal to one hundred dollars ($100) for each day for each individual for which the failure occurs.

(d) No fine shall be imposed by subsection (b) if:

(1) the failure was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect; and

(2) the failure is corrected during the thirty (30) day period (or such period as the director of the department of human services may determine appropriate) beginning on the first day any of the individuals whom the fine is imposed know, or exercising reasonable diligence would have known, that the failure existed. In the case of a failure which is due to reasonable cause and not to willful neglect, the director may waive part or all of the fine imposed by subsection (a) to the extent that the payment of the fine would be excessive relative to the failure involved.

(e) No employer may refuse to provide employee data information lawfully requested by the department of human services about specific employees whom the department had determined eligible or is in the process of determining eligibility to receive public health care benefits.

(f) As used in this section, the term "group health plan" has the meaning given the term in § 5000(b)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, 26 U.S.C. § 5000(b)(1).

(g) A group health plan offered by an employer:

(1) May not take into account, for any item or services to be furnished to a recipient at the time the recipient is covered under the plan by reason of the current employment of that recipient (or the recipient's spouse), that the recipient is entitled to health care coverage as an element of their eligibility; and

(2) Shall provide that any recipient, and any recipient's spouse and minor dependents, shall be entitled to the same benefits under the plan under the same conditions as any employee, and the spouse and dependents of the employee.

(h) It is unlawful for an employer to offer any financial or other incentive for a recipient not to enroll (or to terminate enrollment) under a group health plan, unless the incentive is also offered to all individuals who are eligible for coverage under the plan. Any entity that violates the previous sentence is subject to a civil money penalty not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each violation, which may be imposed by the department of human services.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1996, ch. 129, § 17; P.L. 1996, ch. 131, § 17; P.L. 1996, ch. 132, § 17; P.L. 1996, ch. 133, § 17; P.L. 1998, ch. 31, art. 33, § 2.)