Surprise Billing Legislation Passes State House

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s bill to protect insurance consumers from surprise medical bills passed the Washington House of Representatives last night on a vote of 81 to 17.

Substitute House Bill 2114, sponsored by Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, protects consumers from receiving a surprise or “balance” bill when they seek care at an in-network medical facility but are treated by an out-of-network provider.

A striking amendment by House legislators clarified the prohibition against balance billing, improved transparency for consumers, reinstated “baseball” arbitration, and granted the insurance commissioner authority to enforce provisions of the proposed law.

“People with health insurance who get care at an emergency room or an in-network medical facility should not be caught in the middle of billing disputes,” said Kreidler. “I’ve heard from hundreds of consumers who’ve been hit with surprise bills that add hundreds to thousands of dollars to their expected out-of-pockets costs. I’m pleased that our bill has bipartisan support and that legislators understand the impact this practice has on consumers and their families.”

The bill now goes before the Senate Health Care Committee and must be voted out of committee by March 29.