New law protects patients from surprise debt after treatment by out-of-network providers

RICHMOND, VA – On Thursday afternoon Governor Northam held a ceremonial signing of new legislation protecting Virginians from “balance billing” which was patroned by House Appropriations Chair Luke Torian and Senator Barbara Favola. The virtual event was attended by Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, Chair Torian, Senator Favola, Delegate Mark Sickles, and Senator George Barker.

The issue of balance billing (when a patient receives a surprise medical bill after inadvertently being treated by a provider not covered by their insurance plan) has received increasing attention in recent years, with close to 30 other state legislatures enacting consumer protections in the absence of a federal compromise.

Chair Torian issued the following statement: Surprise medical bills can cause financial instability and unfairly put patients in the middle of provider-insurer disputes. I am proud we were able to come together in Virginia to pass a solution that takes patients out of the middle, ensures health care providers are reimbursed for the care they provide, and protects Virginia families. Now, insured Virginians will be able to access health care with confidence, knowing there won’t be a surprise bill coming if a treatment or provider wasn’t covered under their insurance plan.

This law is modeled after Washington state’s Balance Billing Protection Act. It limits a patient’s liability to their in-network cost-sharing amount and requires insurers to reimburse out-of-network providers a commercially reasonable amount, with any dispute settled through arbitration. Virginia’s comprehensive solution applies to the most common sources of balance billing and ensures care is covered regardless of final diagnosis.


Delegate Luke Torian represents House District 52 in the Virginia House of Delegates, serving Dale City, Woodbridge, and the towns of Dumfries and Occoquan. He has held office since 2009 and serves as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. He is also a member of the House Rules and General Laws committees.