MEMO OF SUPPORT – Facility Fees Reform Bill

Alexia Mickles, Fiona Wolfe April 26, 2022

Protect Patients from Unreasonable Facility Fees (S2521C/A02470C)

Empire Justice Center is a statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy non-profit law firm focused on improving the “systems” within which poor and low-income families live. With a focus on poverty law, Empire Justice Center undertakes research and training, acts as an informational clearinghouse, and provides direct representation and support to local legal services programs and community-based organizations. As an advocacy organization, we engage in legislative and administrative advocacy on behalf of those harmed by poverty and discrimination. As a non-profit law firm, we provide legal assistance to those in need and undertake impact litigation in order to protect and defend the rights of disenfranchised New Yorkers. The health law team is dedicated to ensuring access to quality, affordable health coverage for all New Yorkers. Empire Justice Center strongly supports S2521C/A02470C, which would ban facility fees for all preventive care and require a hospital to inform a patient, in advance, when they will be charged one.

Increasingly, hospitals are acquiring medical practices and labs and then charging patients outlandish “facility fees” when they use these services. One patient was charged a $142 “facility fee” when her newly-affiliated-with-a-hospital doctor sent her for her annual preventive mammogram – which should be FREE! Patients should not be charged excessive and surprise fees for medically necessary care.
This important bill would inform patients of a facility fee in advance of being charged the fee by a medical practice affiliated with a hospital. It would also prevent a fee from being charged for preventive services entirely. A facility fee is not a medical service: it is simply an “add on” overhead charge that is imposed when a medical practice becomes affiliated with a hospital. Currently, patients are not informed of these charges prior to seeing a bill. Consequently, patients are shocked when they mysteriously find a $150-$250 facility charge on their bills months after seeing a medical provider. Insurance companies often do not pay facility fee charges – leaving patients stuck with them.

It has come to our attention that some medical associations claim that telling patients about their facility fees would constitute an “onerous burden.” But what is the alternative? These providers are the only human interaction that a patient has with the medical system. If the provider doesn’t inform a patient about the facility fee charge, who will? Patients have a right to know about this secret fee in advance of their imposition by the provider, or the hospital with which they have chosen to affiliate.

For these reasons, Empire Justice Center supports S2521C (Facility Fees Reform) and we urge you to enact it in order to protect patients from the medical debt attributable to these hidden charges.

Alexia Mickles, Esq.
Staff Attorney, Health Law Unit
Empire Justice Center
1 West Main St, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14614
(585) 295-5736

Fiona Wolfe, Esq.
Senior Attorney, Health Law Unit
Empire Justice Center
1 West Main St, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14614
(585) 295-5804