Surprise-billing legislation clears Texas House

The Texas House passed legislation May 21 to protect patients from surprise medical bills, according to public radio station KUT.

The legislation — primarily authored by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills — passed the state House 146-0, according to the station. State senators must approve changes before the legislation makes it to the governor's desk.

Senate Bill 1264 would end surprise bills that occur when a patient receives unplanned out-of-network healthcare. It also would allow providers to use arbitration for payment negotiations with insurers and provides Texas regulatory authority over that arbitration.

Mr. Hancock said in a news release that the key part of the legislation is that it bans surprise medical bills when  patients are unable to choose the provider they see or the facility they visit. This includes medical emergencies, out-of-network care at in-network hospitals and out-of-network lab and imaging work.

The surprise-billing legislation does not apply to patients with federally regulated health plans.

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