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Insurance Consumer Advocate

Sha'Ron James

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Jeff Atwater Praises Legislature For Curbing "Balance Billing"

News Article

March 11, 2016

Florida Politics

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater praised his colleagues in the Legislature Friday for passing HB 221, which curbs “balance billing” by Florida health insurance providers.

“The Florida Legislature was tasked with striking a finely tuned and balanced solution to a multifaceted problem,” Atwater said. “While all sides of this health care community presented valid perspectives and strong opinions throughout the legislative process, I’m pleased that our legislative leaders kept consumers at the forefront of this conversation, ultimately removing them from this complex billing equation.”

The bill would stop consumers from receiving bills from out-of-network providers for the cost of healthcare not covered by their insurance so long as it was an “emergency situation.” The practice is particularly common in emergencies, when in-network providers may not be the timeliest or most convenient provider, and can end up sticking patients with giant bills.

HB 221, sponsored by Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Trujillo, was approved 116-1 by the House last week and cleared the Senate Friday with a unanimous vote. Venice Republican Rep. Julio Gonzalez, himself an orthopedic surgeon, was the only lawmaker to vote against the bill.

“This legislation is a win for every Florida family—both those that have experienced balance billing in the past and those that thankfully will not have to,” Atwater said.