House committee advances No Surprises Act with arbitration: 4 healthcare reactions

Reactions from hospital and physician groups were generally positive after the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed legislation to end surprise medical bills, with the addition of third-party arbitration.

The No Surprises Act — co-authored by Energy and Commerce Committee leaders Reps. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Greg Walden, R-Ore. — advanced out of committee as part of the Reauthorizing and Extending America's Community Health Act, with amendments. It now goes to the full House for a vote.

Four healthcare reactions to the bill's advancement:

1. The American College of Emergency Physicians described the arbitration amendment as "a big step in the right direction." But the group also called for lowering the threshold for using arbitration to resolve payment disputes between payers and providers. Otherwise, the process will "remain out of reach" for nearly all services provided by emergency physicians, the group said.

2. Federation of American Hospitals President and CEO Chip Kahn also said the arbitration amendment is "a step in the right direction" but noted his group remains concerned about the precedent in the No Surprises Act that allows the federal government to set private rates.

3. American Medical Association President Patrice Harris, MD, said adding the appeals process for resolving out-of-network payment disputes "represents progress" with the bill. However, her group still has concerns about elements of the legislation.

4. Association of American Medical Colleges Executive Vice President Atul Grover, MD, PhD, said his group is also pleased with the arbitration amendment and "hope[s] to continue …dialogue [with lawmakers] to ensure that the final legislation fully avoids any unintended consequences that could result from setting payment rates in statute."

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