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Texas now boasts the nation’s strongest laws to shield patients from surprise bills | TribTalk

Sweeping legislation that will help protect thousands of Texans from the calamity of surprise bills and price-gouging associated with freestanding emergency rooms (FSERs) was a high point of the 86th Texas Legislative session.

With the stroke of his pen, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law some of the strongest patient protection laws in the nation to shield Texans from the financial pain and misleading practices of FSERs, where patients face a more than 80% risk of being balanced billed.

Texas lawmakers should be commended for a bipartisan effort that resulted in the passage of Senate Bill 1264 by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and other strong patient protection laws.

As enacted, SB 1264 takes the patient out of the middle of disputes between health plans and out-of-network health care providers in cases where patients have no ability to choose a provider or facility — such as emergencies, or when receiving care from an out-of-network physician at an in-network facility.

Under this milestone legislation, state-regulated health plans will be required to reimburse out-of-network emergency or facility-based providers at either a “usual-and-customary rate or an agreed rate,” and providers can use baseball-style arbitration to settle disputes.

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Texas now boasts the nation’s strongest laws to shield patients from surprise bills.

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