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Senators Approve Possible Balance Billing Compromise

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
State Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, is sponsoring the bill.

After a lobbying battle that has included insurers, doctors and hospitals, a Senate committee Tuesday approved a potential compromise on a controversial issue known as "balance billing."

The issue primarily stems from some patients receiving emergency treatment from doctors and other health providers who are not part of the networks in the patients' insurance plans. That has led to patients receiving unexpected bills for treatment.

Lawmakers have spent weeks looking at ways to address the issue, but insurers have been at odds with doctors and hospitals about changes.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Tuesday, however, approved a revised bill (SB 1442) that received support from representatives of groups such as the Florida Association of Health Plans and the Florida Medical Association.

Bill sponsor Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, said he is trying to prevent consumers from getting "dinged" with unexpected bills. The revised proposal, in part, includes a dispute-resolution process, and Garcia said the bill is aimed at removing patients from negotiations between providers and insurers.

The bill still needs to go through the Senate Appropriations Committee before it could reach the full Senate. A House version (HB 221), filed by Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, is slated to be heard Wednesday by the House Health & Human Services Committee.