Gov. Brian Kemp signs crucial surprise billing legislation into law

Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp signed crucial “surprise billing” legislation into law during a ceremony that took place at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital yesterday, July 16. H.B. 888 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) was one of the Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) priorities for the 2020 state legislative session.

“MAG would really like to thank and applaud state lawmakers for their vision and leadership,” says MAG President Andrew Reisman, M.D. “Every Georgian is going to enjoy budget certainty and additional peace of mind knowing that they passed this landmark legislation.”

H.B. 888 will…

– Set the price that should be paid for out-of-network emergency care and unanticipated out-of-network non-emergency care at 1) the previously contracted rate between the provider and the insurer or 2) the 2017 median contracted rate, adjusted annually according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 3) a higher amount as determined by the insurer – whichever is greater – and paid without the need for prior authorization and without any retrospective payment denials.

– Allow a patient to choose out-of-network elective care by consenting in writing and orally at least 48 hours in advance with an estimate of the charges.

– Establish a “baseball-style” arbitration system (i.e., the insurer and physician/provider would each submit a payment amount and an arbitrator would choose one of the numbers and the “loser” would pay the arbitration costs and the bundling or batching of claims would be allowed, with no thresholds).

In addition to Rep. Hawkins, Dr. Reisman reports that numerous legislators played key roles in passing the bill – including Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus), Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), Gov. Kemp, and Lt Gov. Geoff Duncan.

Gov. Kemp’s press release

The dignitaries that were on hand for the H.B. 888 bill signing were (from the left) Rep. Richard Smith, Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D., Rep. Lee Hawkins, Gov. Brian Kemp, and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler.