Martin Grohman

Martin Grohman

AUGUSTA — A measure from Rep. Martin Grohman, D-Biddeford, to protect consumers from unexpected medical bills is now law, having gained approval in both the Maine House and Senate.
 
The measure, LD 1557 — ”An Act To Protect Maine Consumers from Unexpected Medical Bills” — will ensure patients are not penalized if they accidentally see an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility, despite their best efforts, which Grohman said is a common reason for unexpected medical bills.
 
“When you’re dealing with an illness, an injury or even a routine medical procedure, you shouldn’t also have to worry about surprise medical bills,” Grohman said in a release Monday. “I was pleased to get unanimous committee support for the idea.”
 
The bill also requires insurance companies to regularly update their online provider directories so consumers can access accurate, up-to-date information when looking for in-network services.
 
“This can happen even after you’ve done your homework and made sure you were going to a facility that’s covered by your insurance network,” Grohman said. “You did everything you were supposed to do, but you’re still left on the hook. This measure will protect Mainers who find themselves in such situations.”
 
The measure was given final approval by the House and Senate “under the hammer,” or by unanimous consent, last week. Gov. Paul LePage signed it into law Friday.
 
Maine isn’t the only state to pass such a bill. Connecticut, Florida, New York, California and Illinois have passed similar measures in recent years.
  
Grohman said Tuesday he enjoyed working with Republicans, including Rep. Bob Foley of Wells, on the bill, which saw bipartisan support.
 
“I really enjoyed working with governor’s office on this and the Republicans … This was a nice bipartisan thing,” Grohman said. “I find it most rewarding when we kind of get together across the aisle and chew on a problem.”
 
He said the issue of unexpected health care bills doesn’t fall along party lines.
 
“I think everybody recognizes the problem,” he said. “(We) started in a place where everybody agreed that what we need to do is prevent the consumer from paying anything more than they would for an in-network provider.”

Grohman added the cost of out-of-network bills in certain instances will be worked out between the network and the hospital providing care.
 
“The consumer won’t be exposed to that,” he said.
 
LD 1557 will take effect Jan. 1.
 
— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


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