A law that took effect with the new year ends "surprise" hospital bills for people hospitalized in emergencies thanks to a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

The "No Surprises Act" co-sponsored by Hassan and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) will end the practice of sending expensive bills to those who are hospitalized in a facility outside their health provider's network that they did not choose. Patients can now only be required to pay in-network costs for these services.

Patients are also protected from post-emergency stabilization services and non-emergency services.

The act was part of the government funding bill signed by President Donald Trump in December, 2020.

“After a harrowing emergency, countless Granite Staters and families across the country have returned home only to be saddled with an unfair medical bill – sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars – because an out-of-network doctor treated them," Hassan said in a statement. "That’s why I teamed up across the aisle to pass groundbreaking legislation to help ensure that Americans aren’t left on the hook for these outrageous bills, and now these important patient protections for many health care services go into effect."

The American Hospital Association (AHA) and American Medical Association (AMA) which represents hospitals, health systems and physicians filed a lawsuit after the bill was signed.

The groups said in a statement they support protecting patients from unanticipated medical bills and helped pass the legislation. They believe the new law favors health insurers in the independent dispute process and reduce provider networks.

"The lawsuit challenges a narrow but critical provision of a rule issued on Sept. 30, 2021, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other agencies. The provision being challenged ignores requirements specified in the No Surprises Act and would result in reduced access to care for patients, the groups said in their statement.

The law will take effect despite the lawsuit.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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