Patient care access, rate-setting top concerns after surprise-billing legislation advances in House

The reaction of hospital and medical groups to a House panel's July 11 markup of proposed surprise-billing legislation focused on rate-setting and care access.

Patrice A. Harris, MD, president of the American Medical Association, expressed support for a legislative fix to surprise medical bills, but she also called for measures to protect patient access to care in rural areas and other underserved populations.

Reps. Raul Ruiz, MD, D-Calif., and Larry Bucshon, MD, R-Ind., want want lawmakers to address concerns about the legislation's current rate-setting approach, and they are pushing for revisions before the full committee markup, Dr. Harris said in a news release.

Other subcommittee members also voiced concerns how the bill would affect care access for rural and underserved populations.

"Members of Congress made it clear they are hearing from the physicians back home, and continued grassroots engagement is essential before the upcoming full committee markup," said Dr. Harris.

The College of American Pathologists also issued a statement after the markup session, calling on the subcommittee to swap the bill's rate-setting provision for an independent dispute resolution process.  

The group said the bill relies on rate-setting for out-of-network services, which "will create imbalance and threaten patient access in the US healthcare system."

And in a separate statement, Federation of American Hospitals President and CEO Chip Kahn said his group was encouraged that a number of subcommittee members expressed concern about the rate-setting approach in the "No Surprises Act."

"Once the patient is protected [from surprise medical bills], it is critical that providers are able to obtain a fair payment from payers unencumbered by government intervention," he said.


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