What lawmakers are saying about surprise medical bills

Federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been working together on legislation to end surprise medical bills.

On May 16, Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and a bipartisan group of senators introduced the STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act, which includes an independent dispute resolution process allowing healthcare providers and health plans the option to appeal payment amounts for services. 

In the House, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., released draft surprise-billing legislation May 14 with Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. Their proposal prohibits balance billing of patients for out-of-network emergency services or for scheduled services provided by an out-of-network provider that patients didn't realize would be involved in their care. It also would require health plans to pay at least the median in-network rate for the service in that geographic area.

Three comments from lawmakers on the issue:

1. Mr. Pallone, during a House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee hearing June 12, said: "It is long past time for Congress to take decisive action to protect patients from the unreasonable and unacceptable practice of surprise billing.  Every day, we hear new stories about American families being devastated financially and put through the tremendous emotional toll of surprise medical bills."

2. During a June 18 Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, Ms. Hassan said: "It is completely unacceptable that people do everything that they're supposed to do to ensure that their care is in their insurance network and then still end up with large, unexpected bills from an out-of-network provider."

3. Mr. Walden told Vox in May: "Let's protect patients by ending surprise medical bills. The path to achieving this goal has multiple roads. I believe it’s fair to base the compensation mechanism off of private-market rates and that any solution should not raise federal healthcare costs. This is one solution. Arbitration is another."


More articles on healthcare finance: 

Senate committee tackles surprise medical bills: 5 takeaways
CMS, inpatient rehab facilities reach settlement on pending Medicare appeals
Texas hospitals maintain state funding for trauma care








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