Nearly three years after President Trump signed into law the No Surprises Act, which contained historic new consumer protections for patients and their families against surprise medical billing, the Administration has struggled to fully implement the law as Congress wrote it. As members heard at a full committee hearing in September, this has resulted in process delays, unfair payment decisions, and reduced care for patients. The House Committee on Ways and Means hosted a bipartisan roundtable with key Administration officials on Wednesday morning to learn more about these failures to implement the letter of the law. Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) delivered the following opening statement:
“Thank you all for coming.
“We appreciate the opportunity to discuss matters regarding something which shares bipartisan concern across this Committee – the implementation of the No Surprises Act passed by Congress almost three years ago.
“What you will hear from our members today is that we all have a vested interest in making sure this law is carried out and implemented in a manner that reflects Congress’s intent and that is fair to all of the parties involved.
“While the law has been effective in preventing millions of Americans from facing surprise medical bills, there are portions of the law that have either not been followed by your agencies during the implementation process or in some instances have been outright not implemented at all.
“Specifically, your agency implementation of the dispute resolution process between medical providers and health insurance companies has left rules and regulations subject to multiple legal challenges and court rulings, injecting more uncertainty into the situation.
“All of this leads to less access to quality health care for America’s patients – particularly for those in rural and underserved communities that already face longer wait times for care and the loss of nearby health care facilities.
“This Committee held a bipartisan hearing last month where we heard about the flawed implementation of this law restricting provider networks, artificially reducing payments, and directly impacting patients who already suffer from a lack of access to care.
“It is completely unacceptable that, to date, agencies have failed to implement the Advanced Explanation of Benefits provision, a critical price transparency policy within the law that remains on the sidelines.
“Understanding that there are ongoing legal challenges currently facing your implementation process, I hope this roundtable forum provides you a better opportunity to provide honest answers about the decisions you have made on implementation, versus a public Committee hearing.
“But make no mistake, this Committee will not stop our oversight efforts on this front. There must be improvement in the implementation of this law and a commitment by the Administration to follow the letter of the law and the intent of Congress.
“Surely we all can agree that the status quo of continued litigation and the incomplete implementation of a key price transparency tool is unacceptable to all involved.
“I look forward to hearing from our guests today about how the Biden Administration will work with Congress to see the full potential of the No Surprises Act fulfilled.”
Ways and Means Committee members were joined by officials from the following agencies:
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Department of Labor (DOL)
- Employee Benefits Security Administration
Department of the Treasury
- Office of Tax Policy