Congress will push for surprise billing solution despite health industry pushback, senator says

Efforts are increasing to prevent surprise medical bills, but those efforts still face challenges from healthcare industry groups seeking to avoid negative financial consequences from a solution to the issue, according to The Hill.

When asked whether he expected pushback from healthcare industry groups, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told the publication, "I would expect so."

"Someone has to pay the bill," he added.

Lawmakers must examine proposals to prevent surprise medical bills, which may occur when a patient receives care from an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility. One plan is from a bipartisan group of senators, called the Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills Act. Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire has also introduced surprise billing legislation, as has Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.

While all of the solutions aim to protect people from high, unexpected out-of-pocket costs, the amount the insurer should pay to the physician or hospital for care rendered must still be worked out, according to The Hill.

A source familiar with discussions among healthcare groups told the publication insurers and hospitals are "battling with each other on who's going to take the bigger hit."

“The first place to deal with it is for the hospitals and doctors and insurance companies to get together and end the practice," Sen. Alexander told reporters. "And if they don't, Congress will do it for them."

President Trump recently also vowed to end surprise medical bills during a roundtable at the White House.

 

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