State Senate Passes AB 716 to End Surprise Ambulance Billing for Californians

One of the most impactful health consumer bills currently before the CA state legislature, AB 716 (Boerner) takes Californians out of the middle of ambulance billing disputes

***Impacted consumer stories available upon request***

SACRAMENTO, CA – Yesterday with unanimous bipartisan support, California’s State Senate passed AB 716 by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner to end a major loophole in California’s surprise billing protections. The legislation, which would prevent surprise out-of-network bills for ambulance rides, now heads to a final Assembly concurrence vote before going to Governor Newsom’s desk.

Millions of Californians have received large bills after taking an ambulance that was unknowingly out-of-network. When consumers receive these surprise bills it can be financially destabilizing, especially for low- and moderate-income Californians who lack significant savings. As a result, many Californians have reported hesitation to call an ambulance at all for fear of a huge bill, putting their health at risk.

Over the last decade, California and the federal government have banned these out-of-network charges for most medical bills but excluded ambulance bills from these patient protections. AB 716 requires insurance plans to pay a locally-set rate for ambulance services when a contract is not present, and ambulance providers are prevented from billing the patient more than the in-network cost-sharing. Within the first 12 months of the first billing notice, the bill also protects consumers from being sent to collections and having an adverse credit report for an unpaid bill or being sued. Additionally, AB 716 ensures that those without insurance will not be charged more than the Medi-Cal or Medicare rate for the service, whichever is greater.

***Impacted consumer stories available upon request***

“By passing AB 716, the California State Senate has taken a significant step to protect California patients from the trauma of receiving a large bill after already facing the trauma of an emergency,” said Katie Van Deynze, policy and legislative advocate with Health Access California, the sponsor of the bill. “AB 716 would have direct benefits to millions of Californians, giving them the peace of mind to know they can call 911 in an emergency and not be faced with a huge surprise bill.”

“The last thing anyone should be thinking about during a medical emergency is whether they can afford the ambulance ride,” said Assemblymember Boerner. “AB 716 will prevent consumers from being hit with those surprise bills for ground ambulance service, protect the uninsured, and help ensure that the costs are better covered for the heroic work of our firefighters and paramedics.”

Ambulances have the highest-out-network billing rate in the country, adding up to $129 million spent by insured patients on ambulance surprise bills every year nationally. Studies show about half of emergency ambulance patients with insurance are at risk of receiving an out-of-network bill. After an ambulance ride, California patients often receive a surprise bill of over $1,000 and even more than $2,000 depending on the provider and insurer.

By taking the consumer out of the middle, AB 716 will prevent them from being charged an out-of-network surprise bill for ground ambulance services and protect uninsured Californians from being charged inflated ambulance rates.


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Rachel Linn Gish,, (916) 532-2128