Balance Billing Measure Heads To Senate Floor

Feb 26, 2016

With supporters saying they are seeking to protect patients from surprise expenses, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a bill that deals with a closely watched health-care issue known as "balance billing."

The vote readies the bill (SB 1442), filed by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, to go to the full Senate. 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. The legislation, in part, includes a dispute-resolution process aimed at health-care providers and insurers working out billing issues. Garcia said the measure tries to "take the consumer out of the equation."

The balance-billing issue has drawn lobbying from groups such as health insurers, doctors and hospitals. A House version (HB 221), sponsored by Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, is ready to go to the full House.