Three years after the passage of AB 72, California’s surprise billing law has proved that a fair, local, benchmark solution can stop surprise medical bills while improving health care affordability for hardworking families. Recently, the New York Times examined the success of AB 72, showing that the law has protected patients and increased network participation in the state.
That’s why California state lawmakers are joining consumer and health advocates, employers and labor unions to call on Congress to enact similar reforms to end surprise medical billing and safeguard against unnecessary health care cost increases for patients.
In a new letter to fellow California lawmakers Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, members of California’s state legislature who introduced AB 72 urge policymakers to use the principles laid out in AB 72 to advance a fair, local benchmark to protect patients from some physician staffing firms that exploit a market loophole by price gouging patients and their families. Key highlights from the letter are included below:
- “No patient should pay for a surprise bill or be forced into bankruptcy because of a complicated and unfair billing system. The California measure was approved, with strong, bipartisan support, because it struck a compromise between insurance companies and doctors that put patients first and created the strong consumer protection law in the nation.”
- “Three years after passing this legislation, we continue to see positive results. Despite claims that the law would lead to the narrowing of networks, the opposite has happened.”
- “A recent USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy analysis found that compared with the period before the law was enacted, the percentage of anesthesiologists, pathologists, assistant surgeons, radiologists, and neonatologists whose work was covered by insurance increased by an average of 17 percent.”
- “A separate study published last month in the American Journal of Managed Care also found that the number of California doctors in their networks had increased – by about 16 percent since AB 72 became law.”
- “Simply put, AB 72 has proven to be highly effective when it comes to stopping surprise medical bills. As Congress works to pass national surprise billing safeguards, our efforts in California should serve as a model.”
- “We cannot let entities that use surprise medical billings as a business model dilute real reform to protect patients and improve health care affordability in our state and nationwide. Congress should do everything it can to adopt legislation that reflects the principles laid out in AB 72 so that all Americans can experience the same benefits we see in California.”