The $900 billion government spending bill will end the practice of surprise medical bills.
The legislation, two years in the making, will protect patients from getting medical bills for sometimes thousands of dollars in situations where they go to the emergency room and are unknowingly treated by out-of-network doctors.
A 2019 study showed four out of 10 patients who went to an emergency room received a surprise medical bill.
Health providers will now have to work with insurers to settle on a fair price. The changes will take effect in 2022 and will apply to hospitals, doctors and air ambulances.
Three congressional committees and dozens of lawmakers worked for two years to come up with a solution to the practice, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the retiring chairman of the Senate health committee.
“It is time for Congress to make sure that patients don’t receive a surprise bill when they seek medical treatment,” Alexander said Sunday according to the Chattanoogan. “This practice has been especially damaging during COVID-19 when patients receive large, unexpected bills weeks after they go to the emergency room. There will never be a broader bipartisan, bicameral solution to ending surprise medical billing and we should deal with it now. Patients cannot wait any longer.”