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Correction: Hospitals-Surprise Bills story

July 11, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — In a story July 10 about legislation to prevent surprise hospital bills, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Jan Emerson-Shea of the California Hospital Association did not respond to a request for comment. The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment from Emerson-Shea to the wrong email address. Her comment has been added to the story below.

A corrected version of the story is below:

California effort to stop surprise hospital bills stalls

A California proposal aimed at limiting high medical bills from emergency room visits has stalled for the year

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California proposal aimed at limiting high medical bills from emergency room visits stalled Wednesday, with the author saying opposition from hospitals was insurmountable this year.

Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu said he’ll continue working on the bill and try to bring it back next year. It’s the latest attempt by a state Legislature or Congress to rein in exorbitant hospitals bills when patients need emergency care but have little say about what hospitals they are taken to.

Chiu’s bill would have capped what emergency patients pay at their copays and deductibles, even if they got treatment at a hospital outside of their insurance network. It would also have capped how much hospitals could then seek from insurance companies.

That turned the bill into a battle between hospitals and insurance companies.

“This bill curtails a practice that generates billions of dollars of profits for hospitals, and lobbyists and CEOs for the most profitable hospitals in California have made it abundantly clear that they will protect those profits over patients,” Chiu said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that level of moneyed opposition proved insurmountable at this time.”

Jan Emerson-Shea, vice president for external affairs of the California Hospital Association, said the group supported parts of the bill protecting patients from large emergency room bills at out-of-network hospitals. But she said the bill would provide savings for insurance companies without requiring them to pass the savings on to consumers.

Carmela Coyle, chief executive of the California Hospital Association, previously said insurance companies, not hospitals, are the true monopoly. She said the proposal “puts money into the pockets of insurance companies and does not make care more affordable for consumers.”

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