Prohibits the charging of a patient fee for a missed appointment where the physician's office receives notice of cancellation of the appointment at least one hour before the time of the appointment; requires advance disclosure of physician office policy respecting any charges for missed appointments.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public health law, in relation to physician charges for missed appointments by patients
PURPOSE: To amend the public health law to restrict charges to patients for missed appointments and to require disclosure to patients of physicians' policy and amount regarding such fees where allowed.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one of the bill would add a new section 19a to the public health law to prohibit physicians from charging patients fees for missed appointments where the patient has given at least a one hour notice of cancellation or rescheduling of the appointment to the physician.
Subsection two of the bill provides that physicians who do charge such fees, where allowed by law, must provide advance written notice of this policy to patients by posting the policy conspicuously in the physician's waiting room and by periodically mailing written notice of the terms of such policy along with patient bills.
Subsection three of the bill provides that this bill is not authorization for physicians to charge fees for missed appointments where such fees are otherwise prohibited by rule, law, regulation, practice or where such fees are deemed to be unethical.
Subsection four of the bill provides that physicians who are found (after a hearing) to have violated this article may be fined not more than $1,000 nor less than three times the amount collected, or if not collected, three times the amount charged. This bill also increases the penalty for subsequent violations to no more than $5,000 nor less than the greater of $1,000 or three times the amount collected or if not collected, three times the amount charged. This section also provides that amounts collected in violation of this bill shall be refunded.
JUSTIFICATION: Currently, physicians may charge fees to patients for missed appointments. Many physicians require patients to cancel or reschedule appointments at least 24 hours in advance. While this requirement seems reasonable it is not always possible. There are many situations where emergencies arise which necessitate cancellations on less than 24 hours notice. For example, a child may be injured at school or sick at home requiring a parent to cancel a scheduled appointment. Also, employers may cancel or not allow leave time to visit the doctor. Finally, the elderly, who may be forgetful or may lack adequate transportation may be disproportionately effected by these fees.
Some physicians may waive these fees while others may not. The decisions to impose these fees is often in the hands of individual office manages and may be charged or waived on a case-by-case basis.
This bill would establish a unified standard for these fees throughout the state and it would also protect health care consumers from unfair charges.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: S. 2503 of 2007 02/06/07 Referred to Health 01/10/11 REFERRED TO HEALTH 01/04/12 REFERRED TO HEALTH
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: NONE
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the first day of the calendar month next succeeding the sixtieth day after it shall have become a law. It shall apply to all appointments scheduled to occur on or after its effective date no matter when made.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4265 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE March 18, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. SAMPSON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Health AN ACT to amend the public health law, in relation to physician charges for missed appointments by patients THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The public health law is amended by adding a new section 19-a to read as follows: S 19-A. PHYSICIAN CHARGES FOR MISSED APPOINTMENTS OF PATIENTS; LIMITA- TION AND DISCLOSURE. 1. NO PHYSICIAN LICENSED UNDER ARTICLE ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-ONE OF THE EDUCATION LAW SHALL CHARGE ANY PATIENT A FEE OR OTHER CHARGE FOR FAILING TO APPEAR AT THE APPOINTED TIME OF A SCHEDULED APPOINTMENT WHERE THE PHYSICIAN'S OFFICE HAS RECEIVED NOTICE OF A CANCELLATION OR A CHANGE OF THE APPOINTMENT AT LEAST ONE HOUR IN ADVANCE OF THE SCHEDULED APPOINTMENT. 2. IN ANY CASE WHERE A PHYSICIAN'S POLICY IS TO CHARGE A FEE FOR MISSED PATIENT APPOINTMENTS, ADVANCE WRITTEN NOTICE OF THE TERMS OF SUCH POLICY SHALL BE PROMINENTLY POSTED IN THE PATIENT WAITING ROOM OF THE PHYSICIAN'S OFFICE AND PERIODICALLY INCLUDED WITH BILLS MAILED TO PATIENTS. NO FEE FOR MISSED PATIENT APPOINTMENTS MAY BE CHARGED IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCH ADVANCE WRITTEN NOTICE BEING GIVEN TO THE PATIENT. 3. NO PROVISION OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE DEEMED TO AUTHORIZE A PHYSI- CIAN TO CHARGE A FEE FOR MISSED PATIENT APPOINTMENTS IF SUCH CHARGE IS OTHERWISE PROHIBITED BY LAW, REGULATION, RULE OR PRACTICE OR DEEMED TO BE UNETHICAL. 4. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY INCONSISTENT PROVISION OF THIS CHAPTER, A PHYSICIAN WHO IS DETERMINED, AFTER OPPORTUNITY FOR A HEARING, TO HAVE VIOLATED THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE SUBJECT FOR THE FIRST VIOLATION TO A FINE OF NOT MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS NOR LESS THAN THE GREATER OF THREE TIMES THE AMOUNT COLLECTED, OR, IF NOT COLLECTED, THREE TIMES THE AMOUNT CHARGED, IN CONTRAVENTION TO ANY PROHIBITION SETEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD09889-01-3 S. 4265 2
FORTH IN THIS SECTION, AND, FOR EACH ADDITIONAL VIOLATION COMMITTED WITHIN FIVE YEARS OF THE DATE OF AN IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION, TO A FINE OF NOT MORE THAN FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS NOR LESS THAN THE GREATER OF ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS OR THREE TIMES THE AMOUNT COLLECTED, OR, IF NOT COLLECTED, THREE TIMES THE AMOUNT CHARGED, IN CONTRAVENTION TO ANY PROHIBITION SET FORTH IN THIS SECTION; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT IN NO EVENT SHALL THE FINE FOR AN INDIVIDUAL VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION BE GREATER THAN FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS. IN ADDITION, WHERE THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION HAVE BEEN VIOLATED, THE PHYSICIAN SHALL REFUND TO THE PATIENT THE AMOUNT COLLECTED AS A FEE FOR A MISSED PATIENT APPOINTMENT. S 2. This act shall take effect on the first of the calendar month next succeeding the sixtieth day after it shall have become a law and shall apply to all appointments scheduled to occur on or after its effective date no matter when made.