State Rep. Todd Jones, a Republican from south Forsyth County, said he voted for HB 888 despite his reservations.
“We’re nibbling around the edges as opposed to actually cutting it up and saying, ‘We have to digest the idea of how do we handle a surprise emergency facility visit,’ ” Jones said. “At the end of the day you don’t have a choice when it’s an emergency situation.”
In the second measure, Senate Bill 359, which the Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed Wednesday, hospitals would be taken into account for emergencies.
A patient still would be in trouble if he or she went to an out-of-network hospital for a non-emergency. The patient would be deemed to have “chosen” a non-network doctor if he or she gave consent in writing and orally in advance of receiving the medical services and was told an estimate of the potential charges. The medical office wouldn’t have to give the patient any time to consider and could get his or her consent just before the service was provided.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, wanted patients to get the notice 48 hours in advance but ran into opposition.
“The 48 hours I have begrudgingly taken out because there are people that feel that that’s impractical,” Hufstetler told the committee. “And I’ve got assurances that it will still work but that just isn’t practical in all cases. So that is no longer there.”
The bill passed the Senate Committee unanimously.