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Surprise Billing package passed out of the Senate Insurance Committee on Wednesday, September 2nd. After some technical changes were made, the Committee advanced the bills to the House floor on a 7-1 vote. While there may be additional changes made on the Senate floor before passage, at this point the bill will likely meet the 4 tenants that NAHU advocates on to resolve surprise billing; banning the practice of balance billing, reimbursing providers at a reasonable negotiated rate, require disclosure of out-of-network providers in hospitals, and allow for an independent dispute resolution process but not arbitration. The Senate will likely take action during the month of September on the bills and if passed, will only need a concurrence vote in the House before being sent to the Governor for her signature.
This September the legislature will also be crafting the FY20-21 budget. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty over what federal dollars would come into the state, the legislature has delayed the budget process until now. The legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget by October 1st, the start of the new fiscal year. Earlier estimates in May predicted revenue to be down billions of dollars. However, new estimates released at the end of August at the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference were more optimistic. With cuts already made in the current fiscal year, a significant amount of federal dollars, and higher than anticipated sales tax revenue, the budget deficit for the FY20-21 budget is only around $12 million. However, there is still an estimated $1 billion shortfall in revenue that could be very problematic down the road if some structural changes are not made to the budget. This means there will likely be some small budget cuts made to ensure long term fiscal responsibility as the economy recovers from the pandemic.