End the surprise insurance gap

Georgia Physician Coalition Applauds Senate Committee on Health and Human Services for Unanimously Passing Comprehensive Legislation on Surprise Medical Bills

Date created

Thu, 02/22/2018 - 16:40

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Contact: Brigid Hasson                                                                                                                                                                                 February 22, 2018

media@endtheinsurancegap.org

Georgia Physician Coalition Applauds Senate Committee on Health and Human Services for Unanimously Passing Comprehensive Legislation on Surprise Medical Bills 

S.B. 359 – Comprehensive Solution to Surprise Medical Bills –Was Approved by the Georgia Senate Committee on Health and Human Services

ATLANTA, GA (February 22, 2018) – The Georgia Coalition to End the Surprise Insurance Gap applauds the Georgia Senate Committee on Health and Human Services for unanimously passing SB 359, The Consumer Coverage and Protection for Out-of-Network Medical Care Act, and working toward a comprehensive solution that protects patients from surprise medical bills. The bipartisan legislation will take patients out of the middle and end surprise medical bills while preserving access to qualify healthcare. 

 “SB 359 creates a fair, comprehensive solution to surprise medical bills that takes patients out of the middle, increases transparency and protects access to care” said Frank McDonald, M.D., M.B.A, the president of the Medical Association of Georgia.  “We commend Committee Chair Renee Unterman for her leadership in advancing this important policy.”  

“This bipartisan bill is the result of a long term, good faith effort by the medical community to effectively and efficiently eliminate surprise medical bills,” said Brett Cannon, MD, President of Enterprise Solutions at Apollo MD, a Georgia physician and board member for Physicians for Fair Coverage.  “Surprise insurance gaps require a comprehensive – not piecemeal – solution, and SB 359 provides exactly that. Transparency is a goal we all share, but alone, it won’t solve the problem.”

“The medical community has rallied behind the bipartisan, comprehensive solution laid out in SB 359,” said Matthew Keadey, MD, President of the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians.  “This bill truly addresses the insurance coverage gap that leads to surprise medical bills in the emergency room, and at the same time will help bring transparency to patients and the physicians who care for them.”

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services has two related proposals that attempt to address balance billing and surprise medical bills.  One, HB 678, which recently passed through the House and is now before the Senate Committee, focuses exclusively on requiring increased transparency from insurers and providers, giving patients clearer up-front information about potential costs for out-of-network care but without addressing situations where surprise medical bills still arise.  SB 359, which passed unanimously today, provides a comprehensive solution, addressing other aspects of surprise medical bills in addition to requiring increased transparency, which protects patients and takes them out of the middle of billing disputes around unexpected out-of-network care.

SB 359 was introduced earlier this year by a bipartisan group of Senators, Senator Chuck Hufstetler, Senator Dean Burke, M.D., Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D., Senator Jeff Mullis, Senator Blake Tillery, Senator Ben Watson, M.D., Senator Gloria Butler, Senator Greg Kirk, and Senator Nan Orrock. SB 359 provides a comprehensive solution to surprise medical bills and would advance strong protections for patients while preserving access to quality healthcare.

Georgia patients are increasingly receiving surprise medical bills for care they thought was covered by insurance, often in emergencies, when they need their coverage the most. SB 359 takes patients out of the middle by creating an appropriate and fair standard insurance companies would use to cover out-of-network, emergency services.  SB 359 guarantees this reimbursement schedule will be connected to an independently recognized and verified charge-based database, and not manipulated by insurers or others.  SB 359 also establishes a transparent and appropriate dispute resolution process for those scenarios when an unexpected event arises during out-of-network, non-emergency care that results in a surprise bill to the patient.

According to two recent studies, Georgians are finding it increasingly difficult to receive quality in-network healthcare.  A 2017 study conducted by the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania found that nearly 50% of Georgia marketplace plans offer narrow networks – one of the highest percentages in the country – meaning plans cover small or very small number of local physicians and other providers, leaving many Georgia patients with fewer in-network providers to choose from.  Another study, from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, found that nearly two-thirds of Georgia’s 159 counties are underserved by physicians, nurses, and physician assistants.

 

About the Georgia Coalition to End the Surprise Insurance Gap:

The Georgia Coalition to End the Surprise Insurance Gap is a growing alliance of physician and patient-focused groups in Georgia that is working to improve patient protections and enact a fair and transparent solution to surprise medical bills.  Coalition partners represent over 10,000 physicians serving millions of patients in Georgia.  Coalition members include the Medical Association of Georgia, the Georgia College of Emergency Physicians, the Georgia Orthopaedic Society, the Georgia Society of Ambulatory Surgery Centers, the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians, the Georgia Society of the American College of Surgeons, the Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists, and the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, as well as national organizations, including Physicians for Fair Coverage, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the National Patient Advocate Foundation, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and the Emergency Department Practice Management Association.

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Press Release File

Press Release File: 
https://www.endtheinsurancegap.org/sites/default/files/2018.02.22_sb359_vote_statement_final.pdf