On Thursday, May 9, President Donald Trump called for an end to 'surprise medical bills' that can cost consumers thousands ... or tens of thousands ... of dollars for out-of-network billing. Legislators in both parties agree these bills unfairly impact patients when they are at their most vulnerable - such as in the delivery of emergency care - or when they have no control over or are unaware of out-of-network use - such as going to an in-network surgeon but having an out-of-network anesthesiologist.
With bipartisan support to address the issue, lawmakers hope to have legislation in place by this summer. Below is reaction from several stakeholders and comments from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Senate HELP committee:
"Ending surprise medical billing is a perfect example of how Congress and the president can work together to reduce out of pocket health care costs. Twenty percent of patients who visit the Emergency Room end up several weeks later with a several thousand dollar bill that they did not expect. I told the president today that, working with Senator Murray and other members of our committee, our goal is to have a bipartisan solution to end the practice of surprise medical billing to the Senate floor by July. I was glad to have the president say today that he supports this bipartisan effort."
Statement from AHA President & CEO Rick Pollack:
America's hospitals and health systems are fully committed to protecting patients from unanticipated medical bills that they may incur because of unexpected gaps in their health coverage or as a result of medical emergencies. The last thing a patient should worry about in a health crisis is a surprise medical bill. The AHA commends the Administration and Congress for their work to find solutions to this problem.
The AHA has urged Congress to enact legislation that would protect patients from surprise bills. We can achieve this by simply banning balance billing. This would protect patients from any bills above their in-network cost-sharing obligations. Untested proposals such as bundling payments would create significant disruption to provider networks and contracting without benefiting patients.
We look forward to our continued work with the Administration and Congress on workable solutions to stop surprise bills.
National Business Group on Health Applauds Efforts to Protect Patients from "Surprise Billing"
The National Business Group on Health (The Business Group) applauds the President and the Administration for recognizing the need to curb "surprise billing" and Congress' efforts to find a solution that protects patients while also not raising health care costs. The Business Group agrees patients should not receive surprise bills from out-of-network providers they did not choose--whether it is for emergency care or for care they receive at in-network hospitals or other in-network facilities.
Employers cover more than 181 million Americans, and many already protect their employees and their families from surprise bills and assist and advocate on behalf of their employees to reduce or eliminate these bills when they happen1. Still, surprise bills remain a concern.
As Congress and the Administration address the issue, the Business Group, along with other employer associations, outlined a set of principles that would protect all consumers from higher health care costs and would not discourage physicians from participating in networks. The Business Group also believes that hospitals and other facilities should play a central role in protecting patients. Hospitals can reduce the likelihood that the physicians they contract with to perform core services (e.g. emergency, anesthesia, radiology, and pathology services) do not charge patients and plans who rely on their in-network status more than what they would pay in-network.
"Health care is already complicated and costly enough. Patients shouldn't be receiving surprise bills from doctors they don't choose when they go to a hospital in their insurance network or when they have an emergency," said Brian Marcotte, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health.