FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
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(AUSTIN, Texas – June 17, 2019) Texas patients no longer will receive surprise bills for out-of-pocket costs for emergency or unplanned health care services as a measure supported by Texas hospitals becomes law with republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature Friday. Backed by the Texas Hospital Association and other stakeholders, Senate Bill 1264, by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress) and Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio), is a patient friendly, free-market approach to ending surprise medical billing that both protects patients and maintains mediation to ensure that health plans and hospitals can negotiate network inclusion and a mutually acceptable payment amount.
“Texas hospitals applaud Gov. Abbott and legislators for working with stakeholders to create a model for the nation on how to protect consumers while avoiding increased health care costs or limiting access to care,” said Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO. “Patients should never be surprised by unexpected bills for out-of-pocket costs for emergency or unplanned health care services.”
Since the beginning of the 2019 legislative session, Texas hospitals have worked alongside policymakers to eliminate surprise medical bills for patients and preserves hospitals’ in-network status to ensure patients can access to the care they need, when they need it.
As Congress pursues a legislative solution to surprise billing, Texas hospitals urge lawmakers to be aware of unintended consequences, protect private negotiation and limit government interference in the market.
Whether the process for determining out-of-network payment is arbitration or mediation, it is essential that a legislative solution not disrupt market-based negotiations or unfairly advantage health plans. Inserting government-set rate parameters into a private negotiation could disincentivize health plans from including hospitals as in-network providers and paying them fairly, ultimately limiting patients’ access to care.
Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members’ abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents 452 of the state’s non-federal general and specialty hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 400,000 health care professionals statewide. Learn more about THA at www.tha.org or follow THA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/texashospitals.