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Strong Support For Bipartisan Fix to Ban Surprise Medical Bills

February 12, 2020

When American patients and their families receive medical care, they shouldn’t have to lie awake at night worrying about the hidden fees or shocking unexpected medical bills to come. That’s why the House Committee on Ways and Means has offered its solution to end surprise medical bills once and for all.

Our Committee just unanimously voice voted legislation from Republican Leader Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) that would protect patients from “surprise” medical bills and ban surprise medical bills, boost transparency, and reduce patients’ health-care costs.

Professional health and medical groups from across the country have voiced their support for the Committee’s bipartisan bill, the Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act of 2020 (H.R. 5826). Here are just a few examples, with more to come.

American Hospital Association:

“The legislation prohibits providers from balance billing patients for emergency services or medical care the patient reasonably could have expected to be in-network, and does not allow patients to be charged more than the in-network cost-sharing amount. …enables providers and health plans an opportunity to directly negotiate fair and appropriate reimbursement, thereby minimizing the government’s role in the process and reducing the risk that a federal legislative approach addressing surprise medical billing could cause wider market distortions.”

American Medical Association:

“We support the underlying mechanism for resolving these disputes, including the eligibility of all disputed claims for negotiation and mediation. We also appreciate that the mediator must consider a wide range of supporting information submitted by physicians in rendering a final determination.”    

Federation of American Hospitals:

“The plan . . . provides certainty for patients while enabling the health care community to settle payments without unnecessary rate setting. We are pleased to see this progress on surprise billing legislation and hope that the Congress can unify around this commonsense solution.”

America’s Essential Hospitals:

“We thank [the] Committee on Ways and Means . . . for their leadership in reaching a bipartisan agreement that respects negotiations between hospitals and health plans. We also appreciate that the proposal recognizes the need to consider various types of providers and services when setting appropriate payment levels.” 

Association of American Medical Colleges:

“In addition to protecting patients and their families, the Committee’s approach promotes a fair resolution process for billing disputes between providers and insurers.”

Catholic Health Association:

“CHA strongly supports protecting patients from surprise bills. We appreciate that the Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act of 2020 accomplishes this goal by including new safeguards in law. Patients should not be subject to financial consequences when they have unexpected and unavoidable encounters with out-of-network health care facilities and providers. They also should be removed from any subsequent payment negotiations between facilities, providers and insurers.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates this Committee’s bipartisan bill would reduce premiums for patients, lowering health care costs while putting an end to surprise medical bills.