March 04, 2016
Physicians Halt Out-of-Network Legislation in New Hampshire
Through the advocacy of the New Hampshire Society of Anesthesiologists (NHSA) in conjunction with the New Hampshire Medical Society, legislation (NH HB 1516) has been halted in New Hampshire that would among other things, prohibit balance billing by out-of-network providers who provide services at in-network facilities.
NH HB 1516 was unanimously voted to be sent for study, and will not be reconsidered unless it is reintroduced next legislative session. NHSA Director Steve Hattamer, M.D., and NHSA President Gary Friedman, M.D., both gave testimony to the New Hampshire House Commerce Committee expressing concerns about the legislation. Both testified that efforts to prohibit balance billing are often viewed by physicians as focusing on the wrong part of the issue. They stated that focusing on “surprise bills” as opposed to adequate networks keeps patients and the public from demanding that insurers have networks with an appropriate number of providers as opposed to the inadequate narrow networks insurers have developed.
“Out-of-network payment legislation is an incredibly important legislative topic for our patients and the future control of our practices” Dr. Hattamer said. “Physicians personally participating in the hearings, meeting with lawmakers and other key stakeholders, and having those relationships developed in the first place, is what resonated on this ill thought out legislation. When we engage, lawmakers hear from the patients true advocates, their physicians.”
The focus of concern with balance billing is often with those facility-based providers that patients assume will be covered similar to their in-network surgeon and hospital. Other recent legislative efforts on this topic in the states have ranged from prohibitions on balance billing to requirements for “good faith estimates” to out-of-network disclosure/consent requirements for non-emergency services, to mediation triggered by a minimum price threshold.
Congratulations to NHSA for their successful involvement on this issue. Physician engagement is key to this and many other legislative successes this session. For more information on this or other legislative activities, please feel free to contact the State Affairs team.