Legislation aims to strengthen surprise medical bill protections

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A bipartisan group of legislators and the Delaware Healthcare Association announced a bill aimed at protecting patients from surprise medical bills.

House Bill 286, legislation is designed to strengthen an existing law.

“No one experiencing a serious medical issue should fear being hit with a huge bill because someone didn’t tell them a doctor or a lab was out of network,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride, D-Hawks Nest,the bill’s chief sponsor in the Senate. “That’s literally adding insult to injury, and it’s time we closed this loophole in our healthcare policy.”

“No patient should be stuck with a surprise medical bill,” said Wayne Smith, Delaware Healthcare Association CEO. “Delaware hospitals fully support HB 286. This bill ensures no patient would ever get a surprise bill from a Delaware in-network facility. We thank Representative Bentz, Sens. McBride,Townsend, Poore, and the bipartisan group of co-sponsors for attempting to make Delaware a leader in protecting patients from surprise medical bills.”

“While we can’t prevent illness or injury, we can make sure that Delawareans do not fall victim to surprise medical bills,” said Senator Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown.“I am pleased to join my colleagues in cosponsoring this important bill.”

A Surprise Bill typically refers to situations where a patient either receives emergency department services from non-network providers or when a patient receives non-emergency care from an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility without the affiliation being disclosed in advance. Delaware already protects patients from surprise bills regarding emergency department services, but HB 286 provides more comprehensive patient protection by expanding those to cover inadvertent out-of-network service provision at health care facilities in non-emergency cases.

Under the legislation, surprise bills would no longer go to patients but would be settled between providers and health insurers through negotiation. If agreement could not be reached, rules utilized by the Insurance Commissioner provide for alternative dispute resolution.

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