California surprise-billing legislation inspired by Zuckerberg hospital on hold

California legislation to protect patients from receiving unexpected out-of-network bills after visiting a hospital emergency room is losing traction, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The state Assembly approved the bill May 30, sending it to the state Senate, where the health committee had a hearing scheduled for July 9.

But Assemblyman David Chiu, who introduced the bill earlier this year, said he is putting the legislation on hold due to lobbying against it from hospital CEOs and amendments that would have been required for passage, according to the Chronicle.

Now, Mr. Chiu reportedly wants the bill to be turned into a two-year piece of legislation that may be reconsidered in 2020.

The bill was prompted by input from patient Nicki Pogue, who visited the emergency room at San Francisco-based Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital with bronchitis and ended up with a large bill, according to a Public News Service report.

Zuckerberg hospital made headlines about its policies earlier this year and subsequently updated its billing practices. The hospital — which is San Francisco's largest public hospital and houses a level 1 trauma center — revealed in April that it will not resume balance billing.

Under the bill introduced by Ms. Chiu, privately insured patients who received emergency care would only be responsible for their copays and deductibles, even at a facility that is not in their insurance company’s network, according to the Chronicle. The bill also would set standard rates for medical costs for emergency care at an out-of-network facility.

According to the Chronicle, Mr. Chiu plans to continue working on the legislation.

 

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