Surprise Billing Legislation Passes, Some Say It Won't Reduce Health Care Costs In Indiana

Mar 12, 2020

HB 1004 would ensure patients will not face unexpected charges if they go to an in-network hospital but a service is done by an out-of-network doctor.
Credit Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Lawmakers sent legislation to the governor late Wednesday that would help prevent some patients from getting surprise medical bills.

HB 1004 would ensure patients will not face unexpected charges if they go to an in-network hospital but a service is done by an out-of-network doctor. They could be billed for out-of-network charges if given a good faith cost estimate at least five days in advance.

Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) says the bill is the start of lowering health care costs.

“This is the first step in a long process of unwinding a mess of over-billing expensive healthcare that’s going to take some years to work out,” he says.

Several members of the House disagreed with Smaltz and say the bill doesn’t lower costs or do enough to stop surprise billing. It also doesn’t include emergency care. 

Rep. Terri Austin (D-Anderson) says it will create more work for health care professionals because of the good faith estimates. 

“And really, the truth is, it’s more paper work for already overworked health care professionals,” Austin says.  “This is supposed to be a solution to the problem of surprise or balance billing. But the truth is its not. This bill is actually going to do very little.”

Contact Darian at dbenson@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @helloimdarian.