63.5 F
Fort Worth
Monday, October 19, 2020
Government Texas Senate passes legislation to prevent surprise medical bills with arbitration, mediation

Texas Senate passes legislation to prevent surprise medical bills with arbitration, mediation

Other News

Exxon’s oil slick

Exxon Mobil is slashing its capital spending budget for 2020 by 30% due to weak demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a market...

Folk music’s Mark Twain: 7 Essential tracks from John Prine,

NEW YORK (AP) — Some people, the songs just come out of them. For nearly half a century, they tumbled out of John Prine...

Tarrant County records another COVID-19 death

Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) on Wednesday, April 8 reported that a resident of Euless has died as the result of the COVID-19 virus....

Tradition stymied: A year unlike any since WWII for Augusta

The Masters is so intertwined with Augusta, they added an extra day to spring break.You see, the first full week of April isn't just...

April 16, 2019

The Texas Senate passed a bill Tuesday that could provide relief to Texans slapped with surprise medical bills when health care providers and insurance companies disagree on the costs of medical treatments.

Senate Bill 1264 passed 29-2 with the only dissenting votes coming from two physicians: Republican state Sens. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels and Sen. Charles Schwertner of Georgetown.

Surprise medical bills, also called balance bills, happen when a patient is invoiced for medical costs insurance providers won’t pay after a dispute with health care providers. The bill often comes as a surprise to the patient, as some don’t realize they’ve seen an out-of-network provider.

Republican state Sen. Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills said his bill allows for an arbitration process that takes the patient out of the billing dispute, thus creating no surprise bills. The patient, however, is still responsible for their co-payments, cost-sharing and deductibles.

“The whole premise of this bill is to make sure that we protect patients,” Hancock said. “We take them out of the process of balance billing, where they don’t have to initiate it.”

Under the state’s current program to address surprise medical bills, patients must request formal mediation by the Texas Department of Insurance. Once the request is acknowledged by TDI, insurance companies and providers have 30 days to hold an informal telephone conference. If the difference cannot be resolved, then the case is referred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for formal mediation. TDI has seen an increase in mediation requests for balance billing over the past few years, resulting in a backlog.

“Today’s vote means we’re one big step closer to ending surprise billing for good,” Hancock said in a prepared statement after the vote. “With healthcare costs skyrocketing, this relief can’t come soon enough for Texas consumers.”

State Sen. Joan Huffman successfully amended the bill allowing Employee Retirement System and Teacher Retirement System recipients to rely on mediation instead of arbitration to prevent an increase in their premiums, she said.

Schwertner offered several amendments, all of them unsuccessful. He said one of the many reasons he opposed the bill was because it allows the attorney general to take action against providers if they intentionally violate the balance bill statutes, but insurance companies are not held to the same standard.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 1530, which Hancock described as a companion to SB 1264. That bill allows self-funded insurance plans to opt into mediation provided by TDI. Both bills now move to the Texas House.

“Texas Senate passes legislation to prevent surprise medical bills with arbitration, mediation” was first published at by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Latest News

Tarrant County reports 4 COVID deaths as Abbott sends team to Panhandle as cases mount

Tarrant County Public Health on Saturday, Oct. 17 reported four COVID-19 deaths. The deceased include a woman from Southlake in her...

Impatient Democrats want Biden to do more in Texas

By PAUL J. WEBER Associated PressAUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The whispers about Texas are picking up again.Polls are unusually tight. Political money...

Black officers break from unions over Trump endorsements

By CLAUDIA LAUER Associated PressPHILADELPHIA (AP) — Police unions nationwide have largely supported President Donald Trump's reelection, amid mass demonstrations over police...

Justices to weigh Trump census plan to exclude noncitizens

By MARK SHERMAN and JESSICA GRESKO Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up President Donald Trump's policy,...

Texas hits nearly 17 million registered voters for November election

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune Oct. 16, 2020 "Texas hits nearly 17 million...