Three Indiana law updates enacted in the 2020 session of the Indiana General Assembly are rooted in common problems experienced by many Hoosiers. The ripple effects of license suspensions and criminal records can have serious impacts on the daily lives of those affected, and health care surprise billing is a weighty issue often covered in the news. While these three issues may not have subject matter in common, all respond to serious situations faced in Indiana. By addressing these needs, the Indiana General Assembly fulfilled its directive to serve the needs of Indiana citizens.
Indiana Law Updates Put Hoosiers First
Before the 2020 legislative session, applying for an Indiana hardship license, seeking to expunge Indiana records, or comparing costs of scheduled medical care was usually tedious and difficult. The Indiana legislature took care of that by passing, Senate Enrolled Act 39 (SEA 39), Senate Enrolled Act 47 (SEA 47), and House Bill 1004 (HB 1004). Hoosiers in need now have easier access to transportation options, clearer guidelines for clearing a criminal record, and mandated access to health care pricing for scheduled services. Each of these Indiana law updates benefits Hoosiers in different but sometimes desperate situations.
2020 Indiana Law Updates Include the Indiana Hardship License Law
Prior to the enactment of SEA 39, clients, attorneys, and courts found the Indiana hardship license statutes confusing. The prescribed procedures were rife with inefficiencies, resulting in clogged courts and increased client costs. As of July 1, 2020, these obstacles have been replaced with a more straightforward process that, in some cases, allows the court more discretion in fashioning the result that is best for each case.
SEA 39 modifies Indiana Code § 9-30-16-3, which allows a court to authorize specialized driving privileges in cases where the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has suspended a person’s license to drive. Before the enactment of SEA 39, a person with a suspended license could request specialized driving privileges for certain purposes, such as driving to and from work, for a period between six and thirty months. Individuals who needed special driving privileges, such as to get to and from work, for less than six months or more than thirty months were out of luck.
The amendments resulting from the passage of SEA 39 removed these impediments. Because courts are free to tailor the length of a hardship license to an applicant’s particular needs, applicants no longer need to make subsequent applications based on the prior time limitations; the process has become more efficient for clients and attorneys and this should have a positive impact on court as well.
Revision of the Indiana Expungement Law
Indiana expungement law, sometimes called the Second Chance Law, sets out a procedure to allow individuals convicted of a crime to make the criminal history inaccessible in common background checks. Indiana Code § 35-38-9-8 sets out the procedure for requesting an expungement of criminal records. If the court approves the request, the individual no longer needs to answer “yes” to questions regarding prior convictions on job and most other applications, and those records will not show up on typical public background checks such as for employment or housing applications.
While the pre-2020 expungement law gave individuals a chance at a clean slate, it was not without problems. The statute set a different waiting period for expungement of misdemeanors than for felonies. This created confusion when someone had a felony conviction later reduced to a misdemeanor. Which time period applied?
In 2020, the legislature revised Indiana expungement law to clarify the waiting period in such cases. SEA 47 removed the confusion so that the law now clearly provides that the five-year waiting period for applying for an expungement begins on the date of the original conviction even if it is later reduced to a lower level offense.
Avoiding Surprises: The New Indiana Balance Billing Law
Insurance is supposed to help defray health care costs, but understanding and tracking what is and is not covered almost requires an advanced degree. Too many times, people have been shocked to receive a bill from a medical care provider that was much higher than expected because the provider was an out-of-network provider under the individual’s health insurance plan. The system almost seems to disincentivize getting treatment for fear of the cost.
Indiana’s 2020 legislature attempted to resolve the problem by passing HB 1004, the new Indiana balance billing law. The new law was written to take effect in phases. The first phase, which became effective July 1, 2020, requires applicable health care providers to do the following:
- Inform patients of their right to request a good faith estimate of the cost of scheduled, non-emergency services, including posting prominent signage in waiting rooms, on provider websites, and, for non-emergency treatment, in an electronic or written notice given to the patient.
- Provide patients with a good faith estimate of the cost of services upon request and five days before the patient is to receive those services.
The surprise billing law does have some exclusions. It does not apply to emergency health care treatment, treatment scheduled less than five days out, or patients covered by Medicaid. The second phase also requires out-of-network providers to give notice at least five days in advance of out-of-network costs or be eligible for reimbursement only at in-network rates.
For an Experienced Indiana Litigation Attorney Who Keeps Up with Indiana Law Updates, Camden & Meridew
The new Indiana laws discussed above attempt to protect Hoosiers in a variety of areas—the ability to drive, the opportunity to clean the slate despite past mistakes, and the right to information to make an informed health care choice based on cost estimates. Whether you have a problem in one of these areas or elsewhere, sometimes having the law on your side just isn’t enough. You need an Indiana litigation attorney experienced in negotiating and, if needed, trying the case to protect your rights. The attorneys at Camden & Meridew, P.C. are litigators experienced in protecting client rights in a variety of areas, such as bankruptcy, consumer law, and criminal defense for DUI. Whether you’re dealing with one of these areas, your rights under these and other 2020 Indiana law updates, or a different kind of legal problem, our firm is small enough to ensure you get personalized attention and experienced enough that you know you’re in good hands. Don’t delay—for a consultation call 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form today.