FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2018
Rep. Grenn Optimistic About Taking Action on Balance Billing in 2018
Increasing Momentum in the Senate an Encouraging Sign
Anchorage – Last March, Representative Jason Grenn introduced House Bill 193, legislation intended to protect Alaskans receiving emergency medical services from being held personally liable for huge, unexpected out-of-network health insurance costs.
Often in emergency situations, patients are left without the option or wherewithal to ensure they are treated by an in-network provider. As a result, they find themselves on the hook for hefty medical bills, despite having proper health insurance. HB 193 would help Alaskans already dealing with the turmoil of a medical emergency by removing them from the billing side of the equation.
“When one of my constituents reached out to me last year about their experience with being balance billed, I was shocked by their story and knew we needed a fix for Alaska,” said Rep. Grenn. “While it’s important that providers are paid for the important work they do, allowing hospitals to hold patients with life-threatening conditions liable for anything and everything the insurer doesn’t want to pay is not an acceptable option. While the practice of balance billing may never directly affect you, it can be sudden and financially devastating when it does.”
Through the interim, Rep. Grenn has continued engaging with various healthcare stakeholders to improve upon the initial version of the bill, and has been encouraged by the many supportive voices at the table. While not a direct companion to HB 193, Senator Cathy Giessel’s (Anchorage – R) recently filed Senate Bill 129 also addresses balance billing in emergency situations.
“Our work over the last year has really highlighted for me the importance of the balance billing issue to individual Alaskans, and I’m very encouraged to see it gain momentum for this upcoming session,” said Rep. Grenn. “While a slightly different approach, Senator Giessel’s attention to balance billing is very encouraging and I thank her for helping to shine a spotlight on this important issue. I think we have a lot of agreement on some important problems and how to address them, and am optimistic about what we can accomplish this session for the benefit of Alaskans.”
A committee substitute for Rep. Grenn’s HB 193 is expected to be released in a Department of Health & Social Services Committee hearing early this session.