Sen. Sherrod Brown pushes to end ‘surprise billing’ by hospitals

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Senator Sherrod Brown said he wants to stop surprise billing by hospitals.

Brown stopped in Youngstown to outline a new bill which aims to protect patients from costly medical bills after unintentionally receiving care from an out-of-network provider. The “End Surprise Billing Act” would require all hospitals that participate in the Medicare program to have increased billing transparency with patients regarding potential out-of-network providers.

The bill would also:

  • Require hospitals to provide two written notices to insured individuals, clarifying whether the hospital or physician is an in-network provider, and estimating any potential out-of-network fees for the scheduled service;
  • Require hospitals to obtain signed, informed consent from the individual seeking services from an out-of-network hospital or provider at least 24 hours in advance of the service;
  • Simplify the billing process by prohibiting providers that fail to provide the above notices or obtain signed, informed consent from charging more than what that individual would have paid had the provider been in-network; and
  • Protect individuals experiencing a medical emergency from surprise billing by prohibiting providers from charging more than the in-network cost of a service.

Brown said surveys show that up to 40 percent of insured Americans experience surprise medical bills in which a patient’s insurance company covers less of the cost than expected. He said often, the bills are small and many people don’t fight it. But sometimes, the charges can be thousands of dollars.