Bipartisan action on surprise medical bills expected next year, senator says

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are moving closer to an agreement on legislation to prevent surprise medical bills, according to a Bloomberg Government report.  

Surprise medical bills occur when insured patients find out they have high, unexpected out-of-pocket costs for care received. These bills may occur when a patient receives care at an out-of-network hospital or from an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility.

Republicans and Democrats have been working to address the issue, and bipartisan legislation is predicted for early 2019, Mr. Cassidy told Bloomberg Government.

"Colleagues are telling me their own stories about family members who have these incredible bills after going to the emergency room," he said. "Right now, patients are bearing the brunt of the lack of agreement, and that needs to end."

There have been legislative efforts related to surprise medical bills. In September, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled the Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills Act. Then on Oct. 11, Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire introduced the No More Surprise Medical Bills Act of 2018. The first draft bill focuses on preventing out-of-network providers from charging patients more for emergency care than what they would pay using insurance. The second bars healthcare providers from out-of-network billing for emergency services, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg Government notes, insurers and hospitals are pointing the finger at each other  over who is at fault for the problem.

Mr. Cassidy told the publication there are "bad apples with both groups" and anticipates both sides "are going to have to give a little bit" when it comes to changes.


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