Physician staffing firms are behind $30M campaign to stop surprise-billing legislation, Politico says

Physician staffing firms are backing a "dark money" group that has poured $30 million into their campaign to stop a surprise-billing solution under consideration in Congress, according to Politico

Congress is considering various proposals to address surprise medical bills that occur after patients unintentionally receive out-of-network care in emergency situations or at in-network hospitals.

One idea under consideration is arbitration, to settle out-of-network payment disputes between providers and insurance companies. Another approach for these out-of-network payments would reimburse providers based on federally set benchmark rates.

The "dark money" group — which calls itself Doctor Patient Unity — opposes benchmark rates. 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."

To get across its message, it began running $28.6 million in TV, radio and social media ads around the time Congress recessed in August. The campaign also targeted prominent lawmakers, according to Politico, which cites Advertising Analytics, an independent tracking firm.

Information about funding for the campaign has been limited, but multiple sources, including two sources affiliated with Doctor Patient Unity, told Politico physician staffing firms Envision Healthcare and TeamHealth are financing part of the campaign.

Citing Advertising Analytics and Federal Communications Commission filings, Bloomberg Government reported last month that Doctor Patient Unity has made advertising purchases in Alabama, New Mexico, Maine, Massachusetts, Iowa and Texas. The campaign is slated to last until Sept. 17.

Countering Doctor Patient Unity's message is the Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing, backed by employers and insurers. According to Politico, the coalition has started its own multimillion dollar ad campaign in favor of federal benchmark rates, contending that arbitration is supported by private equity firms and is not the best fix.

Read the full Politico story here.


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