Orthopedic society backs bipartisan surprise billing legislation

The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons is backing a proposal designed to ensure that disputes involving "surprise" medical bills are resolved fairly.

Three key insights:

1. Reps. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., and Phil Roe, R-Tenn., were instrumental in creating the "Protecting People from Surprise Medical Bills Act." The bipartisan proposal would ban a practice known as balance billing and use an independent arbitration system to resolve payment disputes between insurers and providers.

2. The proposal would also allow "market forces to draw the best providers to areas of need," AAOS President Kristy Weber, MD, said in a statement. "This can only happen if an arbitration system relies on a truly independent database like in the New York model, which has successfully reduced out-of-network bills by 34 percent."

3. In the past year, several states have considered or passed legislation to protect patients from unexpected medical expenses, which often are the result of out-of-network providers treating patients at in-network facilities. About 1 in 7 patients received a surprise bill in 2016, according to a report from the Health Care Cost Institute.

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