Crowe Advocates Expanding Access During Health Emergency News

Crowe Advocates Expanding Access During Health Emergency  News

“Way too many elderly have had to die alone not being able to be with their caregiver children or other family members,” Crowe said. “And so I am planning legislation to require skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities for the intellectually disabled, assisted living facilities and inpatient rehabilitation facilities to permit essential family caregivers access to their loved ones during any public health emergency.”

Story Highlights:

  • State Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, said the bill is a result of stories he has heard from constituents during the COVID-19 pandemic of family members not being granted access to their relatives being treated in specialized care facilities.

  • Crowe said it is one of many health-related issues he and other members of his Senate committee will address this year. That includes mental health issues for people who have seen those services impacted by the pandemic.

“We will look for ways to continue to better support health care systems, lower costs, increase access and improve quality of care for all Tennesseans,” said Crowe, who along with 131 other members of the state General Assembly returned to work in Nashville on Tuesday.

“Balance billing occurs when providers bill a patient for the difference between the amount they charge and the amount that the patient’s insurance pays,” Crowe said. “The amount that insurers pay providers is almost always less than the providers’ retail price. Some providers will bill the patient for the difference, or balance. Thus, it’s called balance billing.”

Crowe said he will also continue to sponsor a bill to fix the “balance billing” problem with unexpected medical charges. Also known as “surprise billing,” the legislation was deferred last year as Tennessee officials assessed how rules promulgated under a new federal law addressing the issue will impact state-regulated insurance plans.

In a non-health related matter, Crowe said he plans to sponsor a change to state law that would allow electrical utilities to provide broadband services outside what has been determined their traditional service base.

“There are many areas needing broadband in my Senate district that don’t currently have access, but we have found that although we have the money to provide it, the current law only allows a utility like BrightRidge or Erwin Utility to only serve communities within what is called their service areas.” Crowe said. “I am planning legislation to amend that old law to facilitate the growth of broadband in our Northeast Tennessee communities.”

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