House votes to end surprise medical billing

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington House has passed a measure to end so-called surprise medical billing.

The measure passed on a bipartisan 84-13 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Surprise billing, also called balanced billing, is when patients receive a bill for the difference between what a provider expects to be reimbursed from an insurer and what the insurer thinks they should pay. Disputes often arrive when out-of-network providers, such as anesthesiologists, are working at in-network hospitals.

The bill removes patients from billing disputes between the health insurers and hospitals or doctors, and it prohibits an out-of-network provider or facility to balance bill a patient for emergency services. Under the measure, patients also must not be balance billed for nonemergency health care services at an in-network hospital or facility if the services include surgical or ancillary services and are provided by an out-of-network provider.