Minnesotans confused by surprise medical bill ads, US senator says

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota said many people in her state are confused by surprise medical bill ads put out by a so-called "dark money" group calling itself Doctor Patient Unity, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Doctor Patient Unity began running $28.6 million in ads this year opposing federally set benchmark rates, a surprise-billing approach being considered in Congress to resolve out-of-network payment disputes between insurance companies and physicians and hospitals. Its website says it "support[s] a federal solution to surprise medical bills that makes insurance companies pay their fair share and supports patients' right to quality medical care."

The group — which is largely backed by two physician-staffing companies, TeamHealth and Envision Healthcare, according to The New York Times — is targeting federal lawmakers, including Ms. Smith, who took office in January 2018. The ads in Minnesota call on residents to tell Ms. Smith to oppose "government rate-setting."

"We heard a lot about it at the [Minnesota] state fair. Mostly people were kind of confused about what was happening, what it was all about," Ms. Smith, a Democrat,  told Pioneer Press about the ads.

She called the ads "flat-out misleading."

According to the newspaper, she also she believes Doctor Patient Unity targeted her because the group is doesn't want to see its billing practices limited at all. The senator told  Pioneer Press she supports using arbitration to settle out-of-network payment disputes between providers and insurance companies and does not want the federal government to set benchmark rates either.


More articles on healthcare finance: 

Montana officials looking into hospitals' defense of healthcare prices
UVA reviewing holds on student accounts over unpaid medical bills
What being a chief revenue officer entails: Freeman Health System's Kevin Gaudette on his new role

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