Speaker Coughlin on Protecting Patients by Ending Surprise Out-of-Network Medical Bills

‘We can stand up for 9 million New Jerseyans’

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) gave the following testimony Monday as the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee began discussing legislation (A-2039) he’s sponsored to protect patients from surprise out-of-network medical bills:

“It’s a significant day for consumers and our state’s health care system.
“Since October of 2014, I’ve partnered with my colleagues Assemblyman Gary Schaer and now-Senator Troy Singleton as well as my district-mate Senator Joe Vitale to tackle the issue of surprise out-of-network bills that continue to hurt New Jersey’s health care consumers and their families.
“No matter where I go and with whom I speak, the issue is very real and very costly to real people. Our constituents need our help…
“Let me tell you a personal story. Last December I had my gall bladder out…I went in through the emergency room. Service was provided by in-network hospital but out-of-network doctor. I got the bill for the balance after the carrier had paid. I sent it on to the carrier, the carrier was supposed to hold me harmless. Got another bill, called the carrier…fast forward to November, I get a notice from a collection agency.
“I know that ultimately I am supposed to prevail, but that’s because I do what I do, and we are who we are. We know the rules. Think about the patients who don’t.
“Think about the scared 85-year-old who is facing potentially life-threatening conditions and now has to decide when they get a bill from a collection agency what they’re supposed to do, or not.
“We could eliminate that. You can eliminate that. You can stop that practice.
“There’s none of us who don’t know somebody who isn’t one-off at least from getting that surprise bill. Talk to a neighbor. Talk to your friends. Talk to your cousins. Somebody’s gotten it. You have a baby, you’re going to get one. It happens, and we can stop it. We can stand up for 9 million New Jerseyans who get these bills.”

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