California medical billing protections prompts call for action in Washington state

WA Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler says he offered his office's customer complaint tracking system to the health exchange at no cost.
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A newly passed bill in California to protect consumers from surprising out-of-network medical bills has led to a call for action in Olympia.

Late Wednesday, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler released a statement promising to propose similar legislation in 2017.

"I intend to make sure that Washington state is the next in line," Kreidler said.

The California bill would guarantee patients who visit an in-network hospital would not face out-of-network charges. It also creates a process for doctors and insurance companies to handle disagreements about prices without involving the consumer.

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The upcoming legislative session will mark Kreidler's second attempt at passing new protections for consumers.

A proposal in the 2016 legislative session failed in response to opposition from the medical industry.

Since May, KING 5 has been covering the lack of protections in Washington state leaving patients with often unaffordable bills. View related stories below: