Healthcare reacts to federal push for surprise-billing protections

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President Donald Trump's recent push for legislation to end surprise medical bills has drawn generally positive and cautious reactions from healthcare groups and lawmakers.

Here are six: 

1.Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., put out a statement noting the opportunity for lawmakers to work together:

"Ending surprise medical billing is a perfect example of how Congress and the president can work together to reduce out-of-pocket healthcare costs. I told the president that working with Sen. [Patty] Murray, [D-Wash.], and other members of our committee, our goal is to have a bipartisan solution to end the practice of surprise medical billing to the Senate floor by July."

2. American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack commended the federal efforts on surprise medical bills and restated the association's stance on the issue:

"The AHA has urged Congress to enact legislation that would protect patients from surprise bills. "We can achieve this by simply banning balance billing. This would protect patients from any bills above their in-network cost-sharing obligations. Untested proposals such as bundling payments would create significant disruption to provider networks and contracting without benefiting patients."

3. American College of Emergency Physicians President Vidor Friedman, MD, also expressed concern about bundling payments as a surprise-billing solution and said principles laid out by the administration don't do enough to protect patients:

"ACEP is concerned about the administration's call for a single hospital bill. Such a 'bundled payment' approach may seem simple in theory for voluntary medical procedures, but if applied to the unpredictable nature of emergency care, this untested idea opens the door to massive and costly disruption of the healthcare system that would shift greater costs to patients while failing to address the actual root cause of surprise bills — inadequate networks provided by insurers."

4. American Medical Association President Barbara L. McAneny, MD, agrees with federal officials that patients need protections from surprise medical bills but said "some of the principles [laid out by federal officials] raise more questions than answers. For instance, while the idea of a single bill sounds appealing, putting that into practice could have significant unintended consequences."

5. Federation of American Hospitals President and CEO Chip Kahn said his group also supports federal legislation that protects patients:

"That means ending balance billing and ensuring a patient's cost-sharing is based on an in-network rate. Once patients are protected, healthcare providers and insurers should work together to determine payment amounts for the services provided. Ideas like 'bundled payments' and rate setting may seem straightforward, but the truth is they are untested, unproven and an unnecessary government intrusion into the private market."

6. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said:

"It was very good to see bipartisan focus on this practice of surprise medical bills. There are people in New Hampshire and across the country who do everything they're supposed to in order to ensure that their care is in their insurance network, and then they still end up with bills from an out-of-network provider. I am grateful for the attention that the president is paying to this issue, and I look forward to continuing working with my colleagues from both parties to end this outrageous practice."


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