Insurers are to blame for surprise medical bills, physician-staffing company exec says

In an opinion piece for USA Today, physician-staffing company TeamHealth argues that insurers, rather than physician groups and private equity investors, play a large role in surprise medical bills.

The piece — written by Jody Crane, MD, CMO of TeamHealth — takes aim at federally set benchmark rates, an approach generally backed by insurance companies to resolve out-of-network payment disputes between insurance companies and physicians and hospitals. 

"At TeamHealth, more than 85 percent of our commercial care is in-network. Moreover, we have a long-standing policy against surprise billing, even though insurers frequently ask us to pass charges along to patients. We support alternative legislation — modeled after laws in New York and Texas — to fairly settle payment disagreements through arbitration," wrote Dr. Crane, a board-certified, practicing emergency physician.

Dr. Crane said lobbyists in Congress representing insurers are trying to blame physician groups like TeamHealth and private equity investors for surprise medical bills, when it's insurers' proposals that "would allow insurers to use their market power to cut physician and hospital reimbursements while continuing to raise premiums, copays and deductibles — the real cause of surprise bills."

Dr. Crane's opinion piece comes as a "dark money" group calling itself Doctor Patient Unity has begun to run $28.6 million in ads this year opposing federally set benchmark rates. The group — which is  backed by TeamHealth and another physician-staffing firm, Envision Healthcare, according to The New York Times — is targeting federal lawmakers with the ads.


More articles on healthcare finance: 

Prank sign at football game scores more than $1M for Iowa hospital
North Carolina county to go after nearly $30M in unpaid ambulance bills
CMS finalizes rule detailing Oct. 1 cuts to Medicaid DSH payments

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