Senate Bill 56 is aimed at limiting so-called surprise medical bills, but the measure is stalled in a House committee.
But its sponsor, Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said he hasn’t given up on getting the provisions enacted this year. The Senate Finance Committee he chairs added the language to a House bill expanding tax credits for low-income housing projects. It was passed (again) by the full Senate Friday.
“The surprise billing is attached to HB 540 and back in the House,” Hufstetler said Monday. “We are requesting that the House be allowed to vote on it.”
The proposed “Consumer Coverage and Protection for Out-of-Network Care Act” would take the patient out of the mix when there is a cost dispute between a provider and an insurance company.
Hufstetler said 90 percent of surprise bills stem from emergency care that requires immediate treatment. His legislation sets out a formula to determine what the insurer must pay the provider, with the patient’s share limited to the in-network price.
Today is the final day of the 2019 Georgia General Assembly session. Both chambers convene at 10 a.m.
Hufstetler said he’ll be keeping an eye on a number of measures that have passed through his committee, which vets legislation dealing primarily with revenue, taxes, commerce and trade.
“An important online bill that seems to be stuck is whether to continue to tax Uber and Lyft,” he noted.
Hufstetler also expects to present HB 365, which would reduce the state and local title tax on vehicle sales to 6.6 percent from 7 percent.
Another battle raging between the chambers is whether to continue a tax exemption on jet fuel that would benefit Delta and other major carriers.
HB 447 contained the provision, but the Senate Finance Committee substituted a 10-cent-per-gallon excise tax on all aviation gas. Sen. Tyler Harper, R-Ocilla, said at the time that it’s less than the jet fuel tax a few years ago and the revenue is needed to fund improvements at airports around the state.
Hufstetler said the estimated $40 million a year is important when there’s $220 million worth of infrastructure needs, “including $2 million needed for a runway extension at our Rome airport.”
The House pressed again for the exemption but the Senate did not agree.
“It is dead in the Senate, but we have to watch out for it being attached to another House bill,” Hufstetler added.
Any measure that doesn’t pass by midnight can be rolled over to the 2020 session. Today’s House and Senate deliberations can be viewed online live at Legis.Ga.Gov.