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Lipinski, Gallagher, Axne, Spanberger Urge House and Senate Leadership to Protect Patients from Surprise Medical Bills

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Dan Lipinski (IL-3), Mike Gallagher (WI-8), Cindy Axne (IA-3), and Abigail Spanberger (VA-7) this week called on House and Senate leadership to bring up legislation that would put an end to the expensive surprise medical bills patients receive when they are unable to select a healthcare provider and receive out of network care. The Members, in a letter to the legislative leaders, also urged prioritizing ending surprise medical bills though proposals that maximize savings to healthcare consumers, lower insurance premiums, and provide for meaningful deficit reduction to the federal government at the same time.

Surprise medical bills are especially common after a patient visits the emergency room, or after a patient receives treatment from an out-of-network physician at an in-network hospital. According to a recent analysis by the Health Care Cost Institute, 16.5 percent of emergency room visits nationally in 2017 included out-of-network claims from emergency medicine specialists.

“Congress can and should take action right now to help protect patients from surprise billing,” the Members wrote. “First, we can take the patient out of the middle of payment disputes between insurers and out-of-network providers. Secondly, we can resolve the market failures that have led to surprise billing in the first place and provide for a mechanism for providers and insurers to resolve payment conflicts in a transparent, predictable way.”

Several different proposals been introduced to address this issue, but not all have been shown to create a triple win of ending surprise bills, cutting insurance premiums, and reducing the federal debt. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), of the surprise billing-ending proposals that reduce the deficit, savings range from $9 billion to $25 billion. With a recent compromise deal between House and Senate committees that takes CBO findings into account, there is no more reason to delay. House and Senate leadership should bring up a solution for a vote to ensure that patients are no longer bombarded with unpredictable, budget-busting bills after major medical procedures and emergency room visits.

 

Full text of the letter is available here.