California Gov. Jerry Brown Friday signed a bill that aims to stop surprise medical bills for services provided by out-of-network doctors.
Under the bipartisan law, patients who went to in-network facilities for care would have to pay only in-network cost-sharing. This applies to non-emergency care, since emergency physicians in California already are barred from balance billing patients. The bill’s provision would not apply to self-insured employer health plans, which are shielded from state regulations by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Unexpected bills commonly come from radiologists, pathologists and anesthesiologists who get involved in diagnosing or caring for hospitalized patients.
The law will establish a rate for doctors to be paid in such circumstances and creates an independent review board to resolve disagreements.
Similar legislation died on the last day of the legislative session last year. It was revived after lawmakers increased the default payment for out-of-network doctors.