Nothing is going to slow down Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier from asking the Florida Legislature to prevent insured patients from being hit with high out-of-pocket costs for emergency medical transportation.
Not even pending recommendations from Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Sha’Ron James, who a year ago assembled a working group on emergency medical transportation to study the problem and recommend solutions.
Altmaier last week shepherded through the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board a recommendation to ban what is known as “balance billing” for emergency medical transportation, despite concerns from several board members. Altmaier chairs the advisory board, with seven of the board members agreeing to approve the legislative recommendation.
Four board members who had concerns about approving the recommendation were advised that they could abstain from voting instead of opposing the measure.
“I think the reason a special work group was put together to look at this is because it is a complex issue,” board member Molly McKinstry, a deputy secretary at the state Agency for Health Care Administration, said, referring to James’ group.
McKinstry stressed that she’s not opposed to the concept of balance-billing protections but said that it would be “premature” to vote on the Altmaier-backed recommendation without hearing from James’ panel first.
The Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board is a panel charged with making recommendations to the Legislature on how to improve the state’s health insurance market.
The balance-billing ban is the only legislative recommendation approved by the board for the 2018 session, which starts in January. But it’s a recommendation that could help give Altmaier’s boss — Gov. Rick Scott — a consumer friendly health care issue to use if he campaigns against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson next year.
Advisory board member and Florida Blue attorney Mark McGowan had concerns with the recommendation, but his problems were more substantive.
Lawmakers in 2016 approved a balance-billing law that prohibits out-of-network providers from balance billing customers of preferred-provider organizations (PPOs) or exclusive-provider organization (EPOs) for emergency services or for nonemergency services when the nonemergency services are provided in a network hospital and the patient had no ability and opportunity to choose a network provider.