- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut Senate unanimously passed legislation Monday that establishes more oversight of hospital sales and adds consumer protections such as notices of costs for nonemergency services.

The 36-0 vote follows approval by the House of Representatives on Saturday. The measure now heads to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

State health care advocates who conduct an investigation to review the cost and market impact of a hospital sale would be allowed to issue subpoenas and take testimony under oath.

Health carriers also would be prohibited from requiring prior authorization for emergency services, charging a coinsurance, copayment, deductible or other out-of-pocket expense for emergency services performed by an out-of-network health care provider that is greater than what is charged when performed by an in-network provider.

The Connecticut Hospital Association opposed the legislation, saying it would increase regulations and expand the review process for hospitals seeking state approval for significant changes in health care service.

Rep. Matt Ritter, the House chairman of the legislature’s Public Health Committee, said during House debate on Saturday that the measure includes changes “to make our health care system more consumer-friendly, to bring down costs, to help doctors.”

Referring to opposition from the hospital association and others, he said, “I admit there are some issues in this bill that we could debate, we can go one way or the other.”

Health care companies will save money by filing audits collectively for hospitals they own rather than for each hospital, Ritter said.

Beginning next year, the bill also would require each health carrier to maintain a website and telephone number allowing consumers to request and obtain health care information.

Negotiations between Tenet Healthcare Corp. and the Malloy administration over the company’s purchase of Waterbury Hospital and four others in Connecticut ended earlier this year. Tenet had cited what it said were numerous conditions for its initial decision to pull out of Connecticut.

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