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Texas measure would push insurers to pay surprise ambulance bills

The Texas EMS Alliance says the bill would ensure fair pay for EMS agencies while reducing patients’ payment stress



By Leila Merrill

AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas state senator introduced legislation to address surprise ambulance bills, KBTX reported this week.

Senate Bill 2476, brought by Sen. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, would prevent municipalities from engaging in balance billing and would protect patients from taking on excessive costs that insurers refuse to cover.

A Health Affairs report published in January states that 28% of emergency ground ambulance trips could result in surprise bills for patients.

The Texas EMS Alliance (TEMSA) voiced support for the bill, claiming that it would ensure fair pay for EMS agencies while also taking the responsibility off of patients to worry about payment disputes.

Ricky Reeves, a TEMSA representative, explained that the bill puts the responsibility back on insurance companies to pay “a reasonable, adequate rate.”

During a Senate committee hearing held on April 12, Brent Smith, president of TEMSA and CEO of Hopkins County Hospital District, testified about the bill and conveyed his gratitude toward Zaffirini’s efforts.

“I want to thank Senator Zaffirini and her staff, along with the Texas Association of Health Plans, for coming together to protect patients and Texas’s fragile EMS safety net,” Smith said. “The committee substitute language that we have been working on collaboratively ensures that local governments – which often help fund EMS operations – retain oversight and accountability. It has safeguards to contain health care spending, and it shields patients who are transported by ambulance from unexpected costs.”

A vote is pending to move the bill out of committee.