Consumer protections against surprise medical bills now law

AUGUSTA – A measure from Rep. Martin Grohman to protect consumers from unexpected medical bills is now law. “When you’re dealing with an illness, an injury or even a routine medical procedure, you shouldn’t also have to worry about surprise medical bills,” said Grohman, I-Biddeford. “I was pleased to get unanimous committee support for the idea and especially appreciate the efforts of Rep. Bob Foley of Wells.”

The measure will ensure that patients are not penalized if, despite their best efforts, they accidentally see an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility, a common reason for unexpected medical bills. It also requires insurance companies to regularly update their online provider directories so consumers can access accurate, up-to-date information when looking for in-network services.

“This can happen even after you’ve done your homework and made sure you were going to a facility that’s covered by your insurance network,” said Grohman. “You did everything you were supposed to do, but you’re still left on the hook. This measure will protect Mainers who find themselves in such situations.”

A number of states, including Connecticut, Florida, New York, California and Illinois, have passed similar measures in recent years.

LD 1557 was given final approval by both the House and Senate “under the hammer,” or by unanimous consent, last week. The governor signed it into law Friday. It took effect Jan. 1, 2018.