A New Jersey lawmaker says some people are being surprised with unexpected healthcare costs after being transferred to hospitals out of state.

Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, D-Hudson, said this is a problem in South Jersey, which is close to the hospitals in Philadelphia.

He said these patients were transferred without ever being informed about where they're being transferred, why they're being transferred and how much that transfer would cost.

He plans to introduce his Patient Protection Act next month to mandate healthcare professionals provide patients with simple, written information concerning their rights.

Healthcare professionals would have to notify a patient in writing that a patient has the right to receive care at a facility of his or her choosing.

There would need to be a clinical rationale for the out-of-state transfer and the location of the out-of-state facility would have to be revealed.

A patient would also be made aware of the availability of clinically appropriate services at nearby New Jersey facilities.

The patient would have to be notified of any relationship between the transferring entity and where the patient is being transferred to and in instances of trauma, Chiaravalloti said there would have to be an explanation as to why the patient is not being transferred to a Level 1 or Level 2 Trauma Center in New Jersey.

"To ensure that health care consumers are able to make well informed health care decisions, patients should be informed of their rights," Chiaravalloti said.

A patient needs to know what protections he or she will have once they leave New Jersey. He said the state has some of the strongest health care consumer protection laws in the entire country.

The Patient Protection Bill would also require health care professionals to notify a patient's insurance carrier prior to transferring the patient to an out-of-state health care facility. It does not give the insurance carrier any more power but it allows the patient to make these decisions.

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