FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2019
AUSTIN - The Texas House of Representatives this evening passed to third reading SB 1264 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), bipartisan legislation that prevents surprise medical billing of consumers in Texas who have state-regulated plans. Having passed both legislative chambers, the bill is well on its way to the Governor's desk.
"Texas patients have been stuck in the middle of payment disputes between insurance companies and medical providers for way too long," said Hancock. "Enough is enough. After a decade of fighting alongside consumers on this issue, I couldn't be more proud and appreciative of my colleagues for coming together in a bipartisan, bicameral groundswell to do right by Texans and get this landmark legislation passed."
Hancock first established a surprise medical bill mediation program in 2009 after the issue was brought to his attention by a constituent. HB 2256 (81st Legislature) created a process through the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) for patients to dispute surprise charges greater than $1,000 from certain out-of-network providers working at in-network facilities.
He later passed SB 481 (84th Legislature) and SB 507 (85th Legislature) to exponentially expand the program's availability and coverage. According to TDI, surprise bill mediation has saved Texas patients nearly $40 million in out-of-pocket healthcare costs since 2015, when the agency began tracking this data.
SB 1264 removes patients from these disputes between insurance companies and providers altogether. It establishes an arbitration process to eliminate the need for patient-triggered mediation and provides state regulatory authority over that arbitration. Key to the legislation, it prohibits surprise billing of consumers in situations where the patients have no choice which provider they see or which facility they visit. This includes medical emergencies, non-network care at in-network hospitals, and out-of-network lab and imaging work.
To read the full text of the legislation or follow its final steps in the legislative process, visit Texas Legislature Online at https://capitol.texas.gov/.