Texas House OKs greater billing transparency at freestanding ERs: 7 things to know

The Texas House has approved legislation requiring further billing transparency at freestanding emergency rooms, according to a Statesman report.

Seven things to know:

1. The House approved the bill on May 2 by a 135-4 vote.

2. House Bill 2041, authored by state Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Houston, would require freestanding ER to provide written information to patients before they receive treatment, according to the report. This includes a disclosure of fees and whether the facility is in their insurance company's network. The written information must be signed by patients.

3. Under the bill, freestanding ERs would also not be allowed to falsely advertise that they are in network with insurers, the Statesman reports.

4. The bill seeks to tackle the issue of balance billing. This refers to situations in which a patient receives an unexpectedly large bill after unknowingly receiving services at an out-of-network facility or treatment from an out-of-network healthcare provider.

5. Mr. Oliverson told the Statesman in March, "There have been widespread problems in this environment, [despite current state rules], with patients going, getting care, thinking that they were covered, thinking it was in network and then, unfortunately with the situation we have with balance billing, the patient is the one who gets stuck with the big bill at the end the day."

6. Opponents of the bill argued that it will result in care delays and make finances the primary factor in patients' care decisions. According to the Statesman, they also note that insurers in Texas already are required to bill patients at in-network rates for emergency services.

7. The state Senate still must approve the bill.


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