Patients and doctors in California are about to be hit by yet another bad policy that helps the insurance industry while it hurts those of us who give care and our patients who need it. AB72, a bill by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, is the latest gift for the insurance industry and its lobbyists.
Unfortunately, California legislators have bought into the rhetoric of insurance lobbyists pushing to incorrectly regulate what physicians charge rather than mandating insurers pay providers, build robust networks by negotiating fair contracts, stop shifting more medical costs back to consumers, and work with doctors to mandate transparency by creating a means to post all retail prices and fees paid by insurers.
Insurers pretend this legislation is going to address “surprise medical bills,” those big bills patients receive after a procedure or accident. The insurance industry sees surprise medical bills as an opportunity to pass legislation favoring them.
We should be using our energy to look for better medical opportunities, not hiding the real cost of care.
AB72 does absolutely nothing to hold insurers and managed care plans accountable for the high out-of-pocket health expenditures many Californians are struggling with. Instead of addressing the root cause of the “surprise medical bill,” legislators have put together a bill that is so convoluted in its mandate that it will cost California taxpayers more than $4 million dollars each year.
Extreme “surprise medical bill” cases have been deployed as an argument in favor of regulating all doctors much as the government regulates utilities. The truth is the vast majority of out-of-network providers charges are reasonable for the services we provide.
Many of these services include radiology, anesthesia, pathology and surgical care in the middle of the night, as they are unavailable as “in network” coverage given today’s narrowing provider networks.
Insurers have created provider networks to become progressively more narrow so they can increase efficiency and maintain profits. Ultimately, AB72 will not protect our patients from high out-of-pocket costs.
Gov. Jerry Brown ought to veto this bill and protect patients and their trusted physicians.
Article source: Press-Telegram.