San Francisco Chronicle Puts Surprise Medical Bills Fight on the Front Page

Daniela Nuñez
Social Media Program Manager

Monday, August 8th, 2016

Our opportunity to put an end to surprise medical bills in California got a huge boost today! The San Francisco Chronicle published a superb front page story on Californians hit by surprise medical bills and the ongoing fight to pass AB 72. See for yourself here (full story is behind the paywall) and pick up a hard copy today:

Three of the 561 stories we’ve received from Californians about surprise medical bills were featured by the Chronicle. The first was from Alyson Kohn of Emeryville, a new mom whose 21-month-old baby needed neonatal ICU care when he was an infant. She carefully checked to make sure her hospital and obstetrician were both in-network and they were. Fortunately, her baby received a clean bill of health but that didn’t stop the other bill amounting to $2,000 from the out-of-network doctor in the ICU. Alyson put it perfectly:

“I never saw the man. I never heard of him. I never knew of him until he showed up on my bill, and he was out of network,” she said. “I’m following the rules for the insurance, which I’m already paying through the nose for. And of course I’m a sleep-deprived brand-new mom worried about my son. So I’m not thinking, ‘Can you make sure this is in-network?’”

The Chronicle also highlighted the stories of Cassie Ray from Fairfield and Kim Rubin from Menlo Park. These savvy consumers were both hit by unexpected big bills after using in-network health facilities. Both had to expend several months and hours of stress to resolve their bills they shouldn’t have received in the first place. AB 72 would close the surprise medical bill loophole.

As Consumers Union Special Projects Director Betsy Imholz explains in the Chronicle: Just because “you shouldn’t get a bill doesn’t mean you won’t get a bill.” That’s why we are part of a coalition of California consumer and labor groups calling for an end to surprise medical bills that would protect California moms like Alyson in planned medical procedures at in-network hospitals. AB 72 (Bonta, Bonilla, Dahle, Gonzalez, Maienschein, and Wood) is bipartisan legislation that would protect consumers from surprise medical bills at in-network hospitals, labs, imaging centers and other health care facilities and ensure consumers are responsible for only their in-network cost sharing, putting an end to outrageous and unexpected out-of-network bills from doctors they did not choose.

AB 72 faces opposition from physician specialty groups who have well-paid lobbyists to speak up for them. That’s why Consumers Union is sounding the alarm, and our army of California activists have been surprising lawmakers at their district offices, saying, “Enough is enough. Pass AB 72 when it comes to the Floor and make surprise medical bills a thing of the past.” Our cacophony is growing louder and the clock is ticking. California lawmakers should join us on the right side of history and end surprise medical bills.

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