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Relating to the regulation of freestanding emergency medical care facilities.
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB 2041, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($879,102) through the biennium ending August 31, 2021.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of
funds to implement the provisions of the bill.
HB 2041 would require a freestanding emergency medical care facility to provide to a patient a written disclosure statement listing the facility's observation and facility fees that may result from a patient's visit, and the health benefit plans in which the facility is a network provider (or stating that the facility is an out-of-network provider for all health benefit plans). This bill would also set out the required contents and form of the disclosure statement, which must include a patient signature line and date of disclosure.
Additionally, HB 2041 would prohibit a facility from advertising or holding itself out as a network provider, including by stating that it "takes" or "accepts" any insurer, health maintenance organization, health benefit plan, or network unless the facility is a network provider of a health benefit plan issuer. The facility would also be prohibited from posting the name or logo of a health benefit plan issuer in any signage or marketing materials if the facility is an out-of-network provider for those plans. It would include this conduct as a violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Finally, this bill would require a facility that closes or for which a license issued expires or is suspended or revoked shall immediately remove or cause to be removed any signs within view of the general public indicating that the facility is in operation.
Texas Action remains neutral HB 2041. While this bill would infringe on the principle of limited government by imposing new mandates on private industry, it would also uplift the principle of individual liberty by helping to prevent people from being subject to the deceptive practice of "balance billing" or "surprise billing" which only exists because health insurance and health care do not operate in a free market environment. If these industries operated in a free market environment, balance billing would not be an issue because it would not be tolerated by consumers. In the currently overregulated market, consumers have no real choice in the matter.
We do not support the concept of fighting the effects of overregulation with still more regulation. However, as a policy matter on this particular issue, this is probably preferable to the status quo as a short term solution so long as we continue to work toward getting the health care and health insurance industries moved into a more free market environment in the long term.