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NEW JERSEY’S NEW LAW: THE OUT-OF-NETWORK CONSUMER PROTECTION, TRANSPARENCY, COST CONTAINMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

New Jersey’s new law entitled “The Out-of-network Consumer Protection, Transparency, Cost Containment and Accountability Act” (A-2039/S-485) was enacted by the legislature and signed by Governor Murphy.  Specifically, the law protects insureds from unanticipated bills after medically necessary emergency or inadvertent out-of-network services. As explained by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), “Far too many New Jersey families found themselves slammed by outrageous out-of-network health care bills they neither agreed to nor had a chance to even review. We have put patients first. We have made clear that New Jersey stands for transparency when it comes to health care. We are putting families first and foremost.”

Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chair Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) added that “This law empowers the insured as consumers with the right to have the details of in-network and out-of-network services and fees clearly spelled out from the onset of coverage, not once they’re in the emergency room or a hospital bed.  Protecting people at their most vulnerable is government at its very best.  Today, we are at our very best and New Jersey has a lot to celebrate.”

There will be oversight of this new law, and within one year of enactment, the state must report its findings to the Governor and Legislature.  However, it should be noted that health insurance established by the Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act (ERISA) would not be subject to the law unless the decision has been made to opt-in. Assemblyman Coughlin thanked “Governor Murphy for signing this bill and Senator Vitale for his partnership, along with that of Assemblyman Schaer, Senator Singleton and Assemblywoman Lampitt. This bill has been too long in the works, but we finally got it done – and that’s to the benefit of all New Jersey families.”

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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