NJ Politics Digest: Legislation to Cure ‘Surprise’ Insurance Bills Stalls

New Jersey’s physicians are fighting hard against a plan to address “surprise” out-of-network health insurance charges, according to a report from NJSpotlight.

While the measure cleared an Assembly panel in a party-line vote this week, it’s been delayed in the Senate, after a committee meeting, where the bill was set to be discussed, was cancelled due to lack of support, according to the report.

Business groups, labor leaders, consumer advocates, insurance providers and the state’s hospital association all support the bill, which only addresses emergency out-of-network charges. While state law says patients can’t be held responsible for costs above what they would pay in-network, non-network physicians can still bill insurance companies for the full cost. That eventually leads to higher overall costs for all who have medical insurance, according to advocates.

But doctors, and their Republican allies, say the plan would give insurance companies too much power and drive doctors out of state.

Proponents of the measure had hoped recent changes in Trenton—new Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), is a lead sponsor of the bill and Gov. Phil Murphy has voiced support for out-of-network reform—would lead to quick passage.

But as the NJSpotlight report notes, those hopes now seem stalled, at least temporarily.

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NJ Politics Digest: Legislation to Cure ‘Surprise’ Insurance Bills Stalls