Update: California Senate Committee Passes Bill to End Surprise Medical Bills

Danielle Blustein
Advocacy Intern

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Efforts to protect Californians from surprise medical bills are gaining momentum. On Wednesday, the California State Senate Health Committee voted 7-1 to pass AB 72 to end surprise medical bills. This bipartisan bill ensures that consumers are protected from receiving expensive out-of-network bills when they go to in-network health care facilities. This issue is widespread, especially in California where a 2015 Consumer Reports survey found that nearly a quarter of privately insured Californians received a surprise medical bill in the past two years. Among those respondents, again nearly one in four were charged at an out-of-network rate when they thought a provider was in-network.  

Many consumers carefully choose in-network health care facilities and providers. Too often, however, out-of-network providers are called in to assist on procedures unbeknownst to the consumer. Examples include when a patient prepares for a surgery and everybody is in-network except the anesthesiologist, or, when a patient goes to an in-network hospital and the doctor sends the lab work to an out-of-network provider.  That’s why we’re pushing for the passage of AB-72, a smart solution that would make sure that consumers who stay in-network would only have to pay the in-network rate, even for out-of-network providers.

Consumers Union applauds the Senate Health Committee for passing this important consumer protection legislation to end surprise medical bills. We are pushing for the final passage of the bill so that consumers don’t have to wait another year for these strong protections. We’ll need your support to overcome the medical industry’s mega-lobbyists. If you live in California click here to ask your lawmakers to support AB 72, or join our growing national push to End Surprise Medical Bills campaign and check out our interactive map to find out what your state is doing to protect you from surprise medical bills. We want to hear from you! Join the conversation on Twitter using #EndSurpriseMedicalBills.

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