Looking out for patients

The bill by state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, expanding mediation rights for Texans hit with out-of-network bills from in-network hospitals is an important step in protecting patients from the financial burden of surprise bills. But it doesn’t go far enough.

Senate Bill 481, signed into law Monday, lowers the threshold, from $1,000 to $500, where mediation services become available to patients. The change will guard more consumers and businesses against so-called balance billing — a top cause of bankruptcy and poor credit ratings.

AARP, the Texas Association of Business and the Center for Public Policy Priorities all endorsed the approach and the attention the law brings to an issue that impacts so many Texans.

Unfortunately, the new law won’t end the practice of balance billing, nor will it reduce the confusion it causes.

Hancock should be commended for leadership on this issue, but more needs to be done.