Lawmakers seek to ban fees that cost hospitals millions

A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives introduced a bill Nov. 28 that would ban fees on electronic healthcare payments that cost hospitals millions of dollars.

The No Fees for EFTs Act would outlaw payers from tacking on fees for providers to be reimbursed electronically. The ACA required payers to offer electronic payments to providers, but payers and middlemen charge as much as 5% for the transactions, a practice exposed in August by ProPublica.

"Fees associated with electronic transactions for physician services are an unnecessary and costly burden on providers and patients," the bill's author, U.S. Rep. Greg Murphy, MD, R-N.C., said in a Nov. 28 news release. "Greedy health insurers attempt to scalp doctors and patients every step of the way throughout the care process to line their pockets. We don't tolerate paying fees to receive direct deposit of a paycheck, likewise, doctors and patients should not be forced to pay predatory fees on electronic payments on essential health services."

The American Hospital Association said it supports the bill, as the fees are "essentially forcing hospitals to pay money to get paid."

"Our doctors and hospitals in small and rural areas are already struggling to provide timely care without having to factor in the even greater administrative burdens and fees brought on by electronic fund transfers," Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, MD, R-Iowa, said in the news release.

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