New Jersey lawmakers advance surprise billing proposal now backed by hospitals: 6 things to know

A legislative proposal to address surprise medical billing in New Jersey earned approval from two Senate committees on April 5, NJ Spotlight reports.

Here are six things to know.

1. The bill, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, and Sen. Joseph Vitale, also D-Middlesex, is designed to increase healthcare cost transparency for patients and reduce unexpected charges from out-of-network providers for emergency care and other services. The bill also calls for arbitration, to be overseen by a third party, when such charges occur, NJ Spotlight reports.

2. Hospitals took issue with some language in the original version of the bill, contending payments reached through arbitration would be too low and negotiations over disputed claims would have been too lengthy, according to the report. NJ Spotlight states hospitals also sought greater transparency from payers as far as their claims practice.

3. Hospitals support the legislation after amendments. The amendments require insurers to publicize claims denials and downcoding information, and provide less time for payers to contest claims and for an arbitrator to determine the ultimate charge, among other things, according to the report.

4. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also voiced his support for the legislation during budget presentation in March.

5. However, physicians remain opposed to the bill, arguing that the legislation would lead to physicians leaving New Jersey, or going out of business, reports NJ Spotlight.

6. In addition to earning approval from two Senate committees, the legislation has garnered support among Assembly committee members as well. Both legislative houses are slated to vote for the last time later in April, according to the report. Mr. Murphy would then have to sign the measure for it to become law.

Read the full NJ Spotlight report here.



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