Mississippi lawmakers dodge action on surprise billing remedy

Mississippi legislation designed to help patients avoid surprise medical bills failed to advance after some lawmakers who are also healthcare professionals indicated they did not want to take up the bill in an election year, Mississippi Today reported.

House Insurance Chairman Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, who introduced the bill, told the publication  lawmakers who are healthcare providers opposed the bill, as well as the current balance-billing law.

He said since the current law "sort of snuck through [when it passed], they didn’t want to deal with it in an election year," and that they "want to be able to get their money."

Current state law prohibits balance billing, which typically occurs when out-of-network providers bill patients for remaining balances after the insurance company submits a portion of the bill.

The Mississippi Insurance Department told the Clarion Ledger last year that it can try to mediate balanced bills for patients but has little ability to enforce the law. The attorney general's office also said it could not enforce the 2013 law.

A bill was subsequently introduced in the state House to require the attorney general's office to enforce the law and establish arbitration of disputes regarding billing between providers and and patients, according to the report. But the bill died in committee Feb. 5.

Access the full report here.


More articles on healthcare finance: 

Senators ask insurers, providers for data on surprise billing
AMGA calls on Congress to end MIPS exclusions
Prior authorizations still a pain for patients, practices, survey finds


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