Washington Legislature votes to end surprise medical billing

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

The House on Thursday voted unanimously to concur on changes made in the Senate, which unanimously passed the measure last week.

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 and hospital 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.