Charles Ashby, The Daily Sentinel
DENVER — A bill requiring free-standing emergency room services to disclose up front what they are charging patients won bipartisan approval in a Senate committee Wednesday.
The measure, SB146, stems in part from patients who don’t always know the difference between free-standing ERs and urgent care centers.
The idea behind it is to give consumers a better understanding of what they and their insurance companies are paying, and whether they can get the same services cheaper elsewhere.
“When Colorado consumers get the basic information about costs and options, they can make an informed decision about where they want to seek medical care and avoid getting hit with outrageous bills,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.
Fox said many patients don’t always realize that they’ve gone into a free-standing emergency room as opposed to an urgent care center, a nonemergency facility that generally charges far less for its services.
The ERs were created to help bring more providers to rural parts of the state that have few health care options, but many have chosen instead to locate in well-to-do areas because they have proven to be profitable, he said.
The bill, which cleared the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on a 4-1 vote, also requires the ERs to conduct detailed screenings of patients before performing any chargeable work, and provide a detailed description of the results of that examination, making it clear that patients aren’t required to undergo treatment there.
It has bipartisan support from its sponsors, Sens. Jim Smallwood, R-Parker, and John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, and Reps. Lang Sias, R-Arvada, and Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont.
It heads to the Senate Finance Committee for more discussion.
See the full article here.