House Releases Discussion Draft Legislation to End Surprise Medical Bills

The measure follows a call from the White House for Congress to pass legislation while bipartisan action is also expected from the U.S. Senate.

5/16/2019 7:30 AM

House Releases Discussion Draft Legislation to End Surprise Medical Bills

Bipartisan support for measures to end unexpected medical costs for consumers is growing on Capitol Hill.

On May 14, House Energy and Commerce Chairman U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., and Ranking Member Greg Walden, R-Ore., issued a discussion draft of legislation to prevent unexpected bills for consumers receiving emergency medical care from a doctor outside of their health insurance network, The Hill reports.

“We are committed to working together on bipartisan legislation that protects patients and families from surprise medical bills and the crippling financial debt that comes with them,” Pallone and Walden said in a joint statement on their proposal.

President Donald Trump also recently called on Congress to pass federal legislation to ban surprise medical bills to consumers.

“For too long, surprise billings—which has been a tremendous problem in this country—has left some patients with thousands of dollars of unexpected and unjustified charges for services they did not know anything about and, sometimes, services they did not have any information on,” according to remarks from President Trump at The White House. 

The discussion draft legislation from Walden and Pallone followed the president’s call to action. Similar bipartisan legislation in the works in the U.S. Senate, led by U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H. and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is also expected to be released soon, according to The Hill.

Many states also have their own bills in place to prevent surprise medical billing, also known as balance billing, including California and Florida. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also recently signed legislation requiring providers to disclose potential out-of-network costs to patients into law, The Daily Sentinel reports. Read more on these state efforts in the June issue of ACA International’s Pulse newsletter.

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