As the Texas Tribune reports, a couple of pieces of legislation recently passed into law in Austin will provide considerable protection for Texas health care consumers with regard to freestanding emergency rooms. Freestanding emergency rooms are facilities, often located in strip shopping malls, which are not attached to any hospital. A 2009 law allowed these facilities to operate according to the Washington Post. The freestanding emergency rooms have the advantage that one can get treatment for acute care without waiting. The disadvantage is that the health care services they offer tend to be expensive, especially for people without insurance.


Senate Bill 507 will extend certain mediation protections enjoyed by PPO policyholders that exist for out-of-network emergency health care providers for freestanding emergency rooms. Patients will thus have more rights to dispute enormous costs that visiting such facilities can entail.


Senate Bill 3276 will require that freestanding emergency rooms be more transparent about their insurance network status. In this way, patients will have a more accurate understanding of what is covered and what is not at these facilities. The bill also required that Texas’ Employee Retirement System take measures to reduce the use of freestanding emergency rooms that are out of network.


Part of the problem that the two bills may help to address is the fact that some services offered at freestanding emergency rooms are also provided at cheaper urgent care centers. If healthcare consumers are better informed about which facility provides which kind of services and what they cost, they can seek the one that is more economical. 


The Posey Law Firm in Austin follows developments in the legislation affecting Texas residents, as well as political and legal challenges that rely on that such legislation, on behalf of its client base. Please contact us to schedule a consultation on how our legal and lobbying services can help your company when it is analyzing such developments.

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