Pro-Patient Bill Signed by Governor Murphy
WOODBRIDGE – Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chair Joseph F. Vitale today hailed the signing into law of legislation they’ve long sponsored to protect patients from surprise out-of-network medical bills, a problem that has plagued New Jersey residents for years.
Their new law – the Out-of-network Consumer Protection, Transparency, Cost Containment and Accountability Act (A-2039/S-485) – will eliminate unexpected medical bills after medically necessary emergency services or inadvertent out-of-network care.
“When you’re in the business of fighting to advance laws that help people in a deep and meaningful way, days like this are truly what we live for,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Today marks the end of unethical practices that surprise patients with unexpected out-of-network charges at the worst time possible – when they are sick or recovering from illness and already coping with more than their share of difficulty.”
“This is great day for all New Jerseyans,” said Assemblyman Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Far too many New Jersey families found themselves slammed by outrageous out-of-network health care bills they neither agreed to nor had a chance to even review. We have put patients first. We have made clear that New Jersey stands for transparency when it comes to health care. We are putting families first and foremost.”
The expansive new law provides comprehensive reforms to several aspects of the state’s health care system involving disclosure and clarity, out-of-network billing, arbitration and provider network audits. It increases transparency in pricing for health care services, enhances consumer protections, creates an arbitration system to resolve billing disputes and contains rising costs associated with out-of-network health care services.
Health insurance plans established by the Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act would not be subject to the law’s provisions unless they choose to opt-in.
The Out-of-network Consumer Protection, Transparency, Cost Containment and Accountability Act also requires the state to issue a report to the governor and Legislature within one year, and annually thereafter, on the savings to policyholders and the healthcare system resulting from the bill’s enactment.
“We are making health care more affordable in New Jersey and making the system more efficient,” Coughlin said. “This is real cost savings and less stress for New Jersey families when they need help the most. I thank Governor Murphy for signing this bill and Senator Vitale for his partnership, along with that of Assemblyman Schaer, Senator Singleton and Assemblywoman Lampitt. This bill has been too long in the works, but we finally got it done – and that’s to the benefit of all New Jersey families.”
“This law empowers the insured as consumers with the right to have the details of in-network and out-of-network services and fees clearly spelled out from the onset of coverage, not once they’re in the emergency room or a hospital bed,” said Vitale. “Protecting people at their most vulnerable is government at its very best. Today, we are at our very best and New Jersey has a lot to celebrate.”