SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Assemblymember Tasha Boerner’s (D-Encinitas) bill preventing consumers from being charged an out-of-network surprise bill for ground ambulance services passed the Assembly Emergency Management Committee with a bipartisan 6-0 vote. AB 716 protects uninsured Californians from being charged inflated ambulance rates.
“The last thing anyone should be thinking about during a medical emergency is whether they can afford the ambulance ride,” said Assemblymember Boerner. “AB 716 prevents consumers from being hit with those surprise bills for ground ambulance service, protect the uninsured, and help ensure that the costs are better covered for the heroic work of our firefighters and paramedics.”
Too many Californians receive big surprise bills when they call 911 in an emergency and are taken by ambulance to the hospital. A surprise bill happens when a person does the right thing by seeking in-network care but is unknowingly seen by an out-of-network provider for a service. In the case of ambulances, the consumer has no choice whether the ambulance that arrives is contracted with their health plan.
“During a medical emergency, no one should worry if calling 911 will result in a large bill from an ambulance provider. In those stressful situations, Californians should only be focusing on getting the immediate health care they need, not worrying about if they will face medical debt,” said Katie Van Deynze, Policy and Legislative Advocate with Health Access California, the sponsor of the bill. “With AB 716, Californians will have more financial security during and after a medical emergency and will be less hesitant to call 911 out of fear of a large surprise bill.”
AB 716 seeks to protect consumers from potentially destabilizing surprise bills. Recent state and federal laws, including the “No Surprises Act” have banned similar surprise bills from out-of-network doctors, hospitals, emergency rooms, and air ambulances, but ground ambulances remain a glaring gap in these protections.
AB 716 now moves to the Assembly Health Committee for consideration.
Assemblymember Tasha Boerner represents the 77th District, which encompasses Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, and the coastal communities of La Jolla south to Downtown and Coronado. You can learn more about Assemblymember Boerner at a77.asmdc.org, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.