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Facility Fee 'Right-to-Know' Act passes unanimously

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Posted at 7:52 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 08:43:53-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A bill warning patients about a hidden health care fee is on its way to the Governor's desk.

RELATED: Patients blindsided by hidden health care fee

Both the House and Senate unanimously passed the Facility Fee Right-to-Know Act (HB 915).

Facility fees help hospitals pay for overhead costs like providing care for everyone regardless of their ability to pay, and education and research.

You can expect to pay this fee if you receive treatment inside a hospital, but a number of patients complained they were charged this fee even when they weren't physically in the main hospital building.

With this bill, hospitals will be required to notify you of the facility fee before you make an appointment and provide another location where you can see your physician without paying the fee.

If signed by the Governor, the bill won't take effect until July 2021.

In the meantime, patients should ask their health care provider if they will be charged any facility fee before making their appointment. If so, they should ask if there's another location they can see the doctor where they won't be charged the fee.

For more information on facility fees, and what to know before scheduling your next health care appointment, click here.

There will also be changes outside of the bill, and sooner.

Starting July 1, 2020 the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) will reallocate hospital overhead away from certain outpatient services and spread that overhead to other hospital services.

"Because there are so many other hospital services to spread the overhead across, the changes will have minimal impact on patients receiving these other services," wrote Tequila Terry, deputy director for the Center for Payment Reform and Provider Alignment at the HSCRC, in an email to WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii.

The HSCRC estimates patients should see a decrease in facility fees by approximately 25 percent on average.