Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed bipartisan legislation on Friday that protects patients from paying for surprise out-of-network medical bills.
Surprise medical bills most often arise during medical emergencies when a patient with insurance receives treatment outside of his or her provider network. Frequently, when the insurance company and healthcare provider cannot agree on a fair price for the care and service provided, the patient is saddled with the bill and required to seek reimbursement, which is an expensive, time-consuming, and unpredictable process.
When the new legislation takes effect on September 1, 2019, patients will be removed from price disputes and insurance companies and healthcare providers will be required to come to an agreement in state-supervised arbitration. The legislation that passed in a 29-2 vote in the Texas Senate was backed by the Texas Hospital Association and was supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
Texas joins a handful of states that have passed legislation protecting against surprise medical bills this year. The Trump administration has also called on Congress to address surprise medical bills.