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Local ERs eye legislation to address fee transparency | Austin American-Statesman

Local providers mixed on HB 2041

In western Travis County, emergency rooms are split over the legislation moving forward.

Tammy Smittle, CEO of The Hospital at Westlake Medical Center CEO, said the bill promotes price transparency, making it a “win” for patients. Her hospital is an independent, full-service facility owned by physicians.

“Healthcare is becoming more difficult to navigate and knowledge is power when making healthcare choices,” she said. “The Hospital at Westlake Medical Center is bound by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which requires us to treat first, ask questions, or in this case, disclose in or out of network statuses after stabilization.”

According to Smittle, the healthcare industry needs to do a better job educating the community on the differences among hospital emergency rooms, freestanding emergency rooms and urgent care facilities so patients can make educated decisions. She said the Westlake Medical Center is an in-network provider with all major insurers.

However, Smittle said the proposed legislation has a downside since the bill will make it harder for freestanding emergency rooms to become an in-network provider for healthcare plans.

“I know how difficult it can be to get a favorable in-network contract with commercial payers, and with (House Bill) 2041 in place, this process will not get easier for freestanding emergency room providers,” she said.

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Local ERs eye legislation to address fee transparency – News – Austin American-Statesman – Austin, TX.