January 12, 2022
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is requesting legislation to align Washington state’s recent Balance Billing Protection Act with the new federal No Surprises Act that took effect on Jan. 1, 2022. House Bill 1688 has bipartisan support and was heard before the House Health Care and Wellness Committee earlier today.
“We heard so many heartbreaking stories from consumers about their battles with surprise medical bills,” said Commissioner Kreidler. “I’m incredibly proud of the bipartisan law we created and that the federal government followed in our footsteps. Now, we need to make sure the two laws work together and provide clear protections and direction for everyone involved.”
“I’m very grateful to Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle and Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax for their leadership on this issue.”
The federal No Surprises Act extends surprise billing protections to all consumers, including people with self-funded health plans and federal employees. It also expands the types of services that cannot be subject to surprise billing.
Congress gave those states with strong surprise billing protections, including Washington, added flexibility in how they aligned the new federal law with state protections.
House Bill 1688 protects consumers from balance billing for a broader set of health services, including behavioral health emergencies that occur outside of a hospital emergency room, including crisis triage and the services of mobile crisis response teams. It also prohibits health insurers or medical providers from asking someone to waive these protections.