Nebraska senators advance emergency medical services bill

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- A bill that would prohibit Nebraska health care providers from charging patients higher, out-of-network rates for emergency services won first-round approval Thursday from state lawmakers.

Senators voted 43-0 to advance the measure through the first of three required votes.

Sen. Adam Morfeld, of Lincoln, proposed the bill to try to protect consumers from unexpected out-of-network costs during a medical emergency. Morfeld argued that unexpected medical bills are a leading cause of personal bankruptcies.

The bill received support from insurers and advocates for low-income people, but a group representing hospitals raised concerns during a legislative hearing earlier this month.

Two more votes are required before the bill goes to the governor.