We issued the following letter to the NJ State Legislature opposing A3458/A6245
To: Members of the NJ Legislature
Re: Oppose S3458/A6245
A bill to change New Jersey’s 2018 Out-of-Network Consumer Protection law (S3458/A6245) is being considered in the legislative lame duck session. This proposed bill runs counter to the federal “No Surprises Act” championed by New Jersey’s own Congressman Frank Pallone that became effective on January 1. That law expands the protections New Jersey instituted in 2018 beyond the approximately 2.1 million people in health plans regulated by the state, to protect everyone.
Now all patients are protected when, without their knowledge or consent, they receive treatment from health care provider or facility that is not in their insurer’s network whether in an emergency or because a doctor in an in-network facility doesn’t accept their insurance. The new law makes sure that no patient gets caught in middle of a dispute and aren’t balanced billed when they did not knowingly choose to go out of network.
The No Surprises Act also sets up an independent dispute resolution process for doctors and insurers to work out the amount of the bill. This includes a binding process, deadlines for negotiating and payment, and a way to enforce the rules. It also requires disclosures and notices to consumers and the use of various forms by doctors and facilities and insurers. Due to the requirement for greater patient disclosure, more specifics on enforcement, and specific payment considerations for arbitration the No Surprises Act more protective of consumers.
Now is the time for New Jersey to make its law consistent with federal law so that doctors and other health care providers can use the same disclosure forms and notices for everyone and treat everyone the same when it comes to surprise bills. Having uniformity will reduce administrative costs and confusion for everyone —- consumers, patients, employers, employees, caregivers, doctors, hospitals, and insurers.
This is not the time to amend New Jersey’s current surprise billing law. Doing so is ill-timed, ill-advised and illogical and creates unnecessary differences between the New Jersey law and the federal law that make it less protective and more complex for all involved.
Therefore, as coalition of consumer groups, a Regional Health Improvement Collaborative, and union funds and organizations, and business groups, we ask you to OPPOSE S6245/A3458. We also request that you work with us in taking steps to ensure better coordination across state and the federal agencies to enforce the No Surprises Act and the New Jersey law to protect New Jersey consumers from harmful surprise medical bills.