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Missouri Sen. Expects Delayed, But Positive, Results from Anti-Steering Bill Hearing

While Sen. Wes Shoemyer, the sponsor of an anti-steering bill in Missouri, doesn't expect this week's public hearing to necessarily lead to the passing of the bill, he says a dialogue began with the hearing that he hopes will have positive results in the future. The Small Business, Insurance & Industrial Relations Committee reviewed Senate Bill 775, which would require insurers to inform vehicle owners immediately on first contact that they have the right to choose the repair facility of their choice to repair their vehicles, yesterday during a public hearing.

"We have definitely [received] the attention of the major insurers in the state of Missouri," he told glassBYTEs.comô/AGRR this afternoon. "In fact, I had some [insurance company representatives] come by my office after the hearing. While I do not believe this bill will move through the Senate this year, they want to sit down and have some talks."

"If we can identify and work on something and come to some agreement on steering and how it is presented to claimants to regard to their choices, I think we can make some moves," Shoemyer added.

Shoemyer said that during the hearing, he compared the automotive repair industry and the alleged steering that takes place to the healthcare industry.

"What I told the committee is that if you think healthcare is screwed up, [the insurance industry] is trying to HMO the collision repair industry," he said. "It's managed care. If you think it's screwed up, well, just wait."

However, the committee is not one that is normally friendly to bills that legislate the insurance industry, he noted.

"My guess is, to be honest, that the chairman of that committee tends to be more friendly to the insurance committee than to the collision industry," he said. "So the greatest opportunity for this legislation to happen is if another piece of legislation comes up that I could offer an amendment to."

Shoemyer said he isn't currently watching any particular bills for this opportunity-but is watching the calendar as various bills show up on it.

"We don't get the calendar until a day ahead of time," he said.

He also said when the process started for this particular bill (and others), he remains aware that bills usually are not passed until one to three years post-introduction.

"We always try to put that whole load of hay in the barn, but the realization is that we have to go one bale at a time," Shoemeyer said.

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