June 18 Senate panel hearing set on bill to cut healthcare costs

The Senate health committee will consider bipartisan draft legislation to reduce healthcare costs June 18, according to a media notice from the office of committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander.

Mr. Alexander, R-Tenn., has been working on the  Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019 with the committee's ranking member, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. They released the draft legislation May 23.

Mr. Alexander's office told The Hill that the lawmaker, who had surgery last month in Tennessee to remove a benign tumor, will return to Washington, D.C., for the hearing.

Mr. Alexander has said lawmakers hope to move the legislation through the health committee this month and to the Senate floor in July.

The draft offers three options to end out-of-network surprise medical bills. These include a benchmark for the amount insurance companies would pay providers, as well as allowing the insurer or provider to initiate an arbitration process for surprise bills that are higher than $750.

The draft also includes suggestions to lower drug prices, including  allowing discounts from drugmakers to go directly to patients instead of passing through pharmacy benefit managers, according to NPR. A

The draft also recommends more stringent rules regarding anti-competitive provisions in hospital contracts with insurers, according to The Hill.


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