Thanks in part to U.S. PIRG and our health care campaigns director Patricia Kelmar, most surprise medical bills will soon be against the law.

Patricia spoke with Spectrum News in November about our campaign, and why we couldn’t let this unique opportunity to secure surprise billing protections slip through our fingers. (Photo credit: Spectrum News)

Here’s a surprise that nobody likes: the heart-stopping moment when you learn that you owe a hospital or doctor thousands of dollars for a procedure that you thought was covered by your insurance.

Thanks in part to U.S. PIRG, most of these so-called surprise medical bills will soon be against the law. Our success in this campaign was due, in turn, to the leadership of Patricia Kelmar, who was a MASSPIRG student leader in the 1980s, an NJPIRG staff person in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and a health care policy expert and advocate for nearly two decades.


We still have a long way to go toward suppressing COVID-19. But PIRG and our health professional partners have made some good progress in the past few months.

On July 22, with COVID-19 cases surging across the country, more than 150 top health care professionals joined U.S. PIRG in sending a letter to the Trump administration, to Congress, and to state governors, telling them it was time to shut back down, start over on coronavirus containment, and do it right this time. Fast-forward to October, with many states seeing a new uptick in cases and deaths — we clearly still…

Aaron Colonnese

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