Senate Passes Bill Allowing State To Regulate Hospital Charity Care Policies
The Senate on Tuesday approved a bill (SB 379) that would require hospitals to disclose their charity care policies to the state and allow state regulators to establish rules guiding hospital billing policies for the uninsured, the Sacramento Bee reports. According to some consumer groups, hospitals often fail to educate uninsured patients about how to apply for assistance in paying their hospital bills, and hospitals have been "arbitrary and inconsistent" in their efforts to inform patients about charity care programs, according to the Bee. However, providers object to the bill, saying that they already have their own rules for helping low-income patients pay bills and that they make efforts to waive fees, provide discounted care and allow payment on installment plans for uninsured patients. Hospitals contend that statewide regulations would "create unnecessary paperwork and drive up the cost of treating the poor," the Bee reports. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), now moves to the Assembly (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 1/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.