Assignment of Benefits Bill Passes the Legislature
MSNJ urges Governor to sign A-132
Legislation requiring health insurers to remit a patient’s reimbursement directly to an out-of-network provider has passed the Senate, just days after passing the Assembly and a week after clearing its biggest hurdle before the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.
This legislation, which has been one of the most hotly debated healthcare issues in the concluding weeks of the 2008-2009 legislative session, would require insurers to honor a patient’s “assignment of benefits” to an out-of-network provider by sending payment directly to physicians. Currently, honoring assignment is optional, and many payers continue to send checks to consumers leaving the opportunity for the check to not reach the physician.
The bill, which had sailed through the Senate in 2008, stalled in Assembly committee as policy makers debated the appropriateness of insurers using the “assignment issue” as a tool to encourage network participation. The Assembly eventually settled on a compromise which mandates direct payment while giving insurers the option of requiring two signatures—the provider’s and the patient’s—on the check. The compromise preserved some difference in payment between participating and out-of-network providers, while assuring that physicians have better control over their billings.
In it’s final form, A-132, the “Assignment of Benefits” bill:
- Guarantees that insurance payments will be mailed directly to physicians regardless of their network participation;
- Assures checks from health insurers can only be used to pay healthcare providers; and,
- Puts doctors in the driver’s seat by assuring that they are aware of when checks are cut, mailed, and signed by the appropriate party.
MSNJ joins the Hospital Association and countless other medical specialty societies in celebration of this tremendous success, and thanks all of our coalition partners for their hard work.