Washington, D.C. (April 14, 2016) – Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, today applauded Florida Governor Rick Scott for signing one of the nation’s most comprehensive bills to protect consumers from surprise out-of-network medical bills into law. The new law will ensure that consumers in both emergency and non-emergency situations are not held responsible for out-of-network rates if they don’t have the ability or opportunity to be treated by a participating provider.

“This new law is one of the most comprehensive approaches in the nation to protect consumers from surprise medical bills. We heard from thousands of Floridians stuck with surprise out-of-network bills, many worth thousands of dollars. In the wake of an emergency situation or hospitalization, the last thing that consumers should have to worry about is struggling to pay a bill for being treated by a doctor they had no choice in,” said Betsy Imholz, Special Projects Director for Consumers Union. “Floridians sent a powerful message to state lawmakers to pass this legislation, and we’re pleased that they listened. We encourage other states to follow Florida’s lead and pass strong, comprehensive legislation that protects consumers from balance billing and the surprise bills that come from it.”

A 2015 Consumer Reports survey found that among privately insured Floridians who had emergency department visits, hospitalizations or operations, 39 percent of respondents received a surprise medical bill during the past two years.

After hearing from thousands of consumers who had been hit with surprise medical bills, Consumers Union launched the End Surprise Medical Bills campaign to help put an end to these unfair bills for good. Consumers can visit EndSurpriseMedicalBills.org to share their surprise medical bill story, sign our petition, or use our Insurance Complaint Tool for state-specific assistance, resources and information. Consumers Union is also working in several states to help pass legislation to strengthen protections against surprise out-of-network medical bills. The group has been a proponent of laws banning balance billing in California, Connecticut and New York, which went into effect last year.

PLEASE NOTE: Consumers Union can connect reporters with consumers who have been affected by surprise medical bills. For more information, contact Kara Kelber at kara.kelber@consumer.org.

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Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, or Kara Kelber, kara.kelber@consumer.org, 202-462-6262

Consumers Union is the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.