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Senate passes heath care consumer protection bill

Senate passes heath care consumer protection bill

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Health care consumers would get a good faith estimate of a medical bill under a measure that passed a Senate panel on Thursday.

Senate Bill 548, by Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, passed the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee by a vote of 12-1.

Daniels said the bill requires health care providers who as a matter of practice report customers to a collection agency or credit bureau to provide the customer with a good faith estimate in advance of what a procedure will cost.

“If you are not going to report medical debt or use collection agencies, this bill does not apply to you,” she said.

Daniels said more than 50% of bankruptcies are the result of medical debt.

She said a benefit of the measure is the creation of intelligent health care consumers who will look for competitive prices, which will slowly bring down the cost to all.

Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, said the state needs to find a way to get transparency in medical pricing. But he said he would be shocked if lawmakers could get the problem fixed in the next two weeks.

“We have been looking for a way to get sunlight in,” McCortney said.

Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, said the nation has the best doctors and medical schools in the world but that medical costs are out of control.

He said he had no health insurance for one of his children. After the child’s birth, he went to pay the bill, he said.

When he told the cashier he would be writing a check, he said, the cashier took the bill back and cut the price in half.

“And that is the check I wrote to the hospital — half of what the insurance companies were going to charge some third payer for the birth of our child,” Pugh said. “Because I was paying in cash, suddenly the cost was different.”

Video: Tour OSU medical college in Tahlequah

Get a first hand look at the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, OK. STEPHEN PINGRY, Tulsa World

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