NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – A bill co-sponsored by one of Johnson City’s state representatives has passed unanimously in the state Senate. Senate Bill 0001 effectively would end surprise medical billing in Tennessee.

SB0001 passed in the Tennessee Senate on Thursday and is now awaiting transmission to the state House of Representatives. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) and Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson).

A release from the Senate Republican Caucus states that the legislation will end the practice of sending unexpected medical bills, also known as “balanced billing.”

“Balanced billing occurs when providers bill a patient for the difference between the amount they charge and the amount that the patient’s insurance covers,” the release states. “The amount that insurers pay providers is almost always less than the providers’ ‘retail price.’ Some providers will bill the patient for the difference or balance, thus it’s called balanced billing.”

The now-passed bill states that patients will not be responsible for the balanced bill, and will not be sought out to pay for bills stemming from emergency care. Patients will also not be billed if they get non-emergency care from an “in-network hospital” but are then unknowingly treated by a physician or lab that is outside of the network.

“Under this bill, patients will pay only the deductibles and co-payment amounts that they would under the in-network terms of their insurance plans,” the release states. “The bill also creates an independent dispute resolution process between insurers and providers.”

According to the release, the bill mirrors the “No Surprises Act” that was passed on a federal level and took effect in 2020.

Crowe issued the following statement regarding the passage of the bill:

“As Chair of our Senate Health and Welfare Committee, I know that one of the problems Tennesseans worry about the most, especially from a patient perspective, is the problem of being able to afford an unexpected medical bill. Sen. Watson and myself have been working on this surprise billing legislation for the past 6 years. I am very proud of this piece of legislation as it fundamentally protects patients from getting a bill for which they didn’t know they’d be responsible. I also want to thank Sen. Lamar Alexander and Rep. Phil Roe for their work making this happen on the federal level.”

Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City)

For more information on SB0001, click here.