Sweeping bipartisan legislation to end surprise medical billing in Texas was filed in the Legislature today, garnering high praise from AARP Texas as a monumental step toward protecting consumers from often sky-high unexpected medical charges.

The reaction pertains to Senate Bill 1264 by Senator Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) and a soon-to-be-filed companion bill by Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio). The measures would remove patients from the center of billing disputes and would prevent consumers from receiving debilitating charges from out-of-network medical providers.

“Texans are fed up with surprise medical bills, and consumers deserve to be held harmless from the anguish and shock that they encounter due to billing disputes between insurers and medical providers,” said Bob Jackson, state director of AARP Texas.

“The landmark legislation sponsored by Senator Kelly Hancock and Representative Trey Martinez Fischer to end surprise medical billing is great news for patients throughout Texas,” Jackson added.

SB 1264 says that when a patient gets treatment from an out-of-network medical provider, the patient will not be held financially responsible for amounts greater than what they would owe if the provider were in-network. In other words, the patients could not be sent a surprise medical bill, or what’s also known as a “balance bill,” which is the difference between what an out-of-network doctor or facility charges and what insurers pay.

Under the legislation, medical providers, such as physicians and hospitals, would be able to bring their payment disputes over the fees for out-of-network services to an independent mediator. Also included in SB 1264 is a provision to allow federally-regulated, self-funded health benefit plans to opt into the strong state protections afforded under the bill.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, Contact Mark Hollis at mhollis@aarp.org or 512.480.2429.