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Relating to health care information provided by and notice of facility fees charged by certain freestanding emergency medical care facilities and the availability of mediation.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 3475 would require freestanding emergency medical care facilities (FSER) to post a sign containing the following information:
1.) that an individual is fully aware that he or she is seeking services in an FSER.
2.) That the FSER charges rates similar to an emergency room at a hospital.
3.) That the FSER or the physician administering care may not be a participating provider in the patient’s health benefit plan provider network.
4.) That a physician providing medical care at an FSER may bill separately from the facility.
This legislation would require these signs to be posted at the primary entrance of an FSER, in each treatment room, and at each location within the facility where a person pays for the services rendered.
Issues arise when people seeking medical care, thinking they are going to an urgent care facility (UCF), are actually going into an FSER. This usually happens because both facilities look alike in nature but an FSER generally offers services similar to those provided by a hospital emergency room (ER). And like a hospital ER, services provided by FSERs come at a premium. Most people seeking care do not know the difference between Free Standing Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Facilities or the resulting differences in cost for care.
When a person is seeking ER services from a hospital, that person has a general idea of the high costs they may incur by going to that facility. However, if a person is looking for the services provided by an UCF but walks into an FSER, that person has no way of knowing the significant price differences between the two different facilities until after the fact.
HB 3437 would require FSERs to post signs in public areas of their facilities that notify people seeking medical attention of the type of service and higher fees that come with receiving treatment from them.
There is no getting around the fact that this legislation would be an expansion of the scope of government interference in private business which is a violation of our limited government principle. On the other hand, the high cost of health care and health insurance is largely the fault of government for tinkering with and heavily regulating those industries at both the federal and state level. While the federal government is the primary culprit, the state government is clearly not absolved of responsibility as Texas has one of the highest rates of insurance coverage mandates among the states.
The dilemma this legislation seeks to solve would likely not be a problem in the first place if it wasn't for government overregulation. Therefore, this legislation would essentially use further government regulation to solve a problem caused by government regulation.
While violating the limited government principle, this does protect individual liberty by helping people to not overpay for healthcare services at a rate that is inflated due to by the government's failure to restrain itself from interfering in the free market. Bearing that in mind we are neutral on HB 3437.