Legislators Seek Health Care Industry Input on Surprise Medical Bills

Health care providers and insurers asked for data on their billing practices and plans available for consumers.

2/12/2019 9:00 AM

Legislators Seek Health Care Industry Input on Surprise Medical Bills

Talks of bipartisan legislation to end surprise medical bills—charges for consumers that are more expensive than they expect for care that is not covered by their insurance—continue on Capitol Hill as lawmakers are seeking input from providers and insurance companies on the issue.

U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Todd Young, R-Ind., Tom Carper, D-Del., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., sent a letter to health care industry stakeholders requesting data from states with balance billing laws in effect and costs in states without balance billing, The Hill reports.

Balance billing occurs when a provider bills a patient for the difference between the amount insurance pays for a medical procedure and what they choose to charge for that procedure.

State laws, such as in California and Texas, provide some protections against balance billing, but legislators are pushing for more laws on the books to prevent surprise medical bills for consumers.

For example, Hassan proposed a bill to prevent higher charges for patients in need of emergency care than they would normally pay for in-network care, Kaiser Health News reports.

The letter from Hassan and the group of bipartisan senators includes questions for insurance and health care providers.

“As we continue our bipartisan effort to lower health care costs and improve price transparency, we seek more detailed information in addition to what we have received thus far,” the senators write. “Surprise medical billing is a complex problem, and crafting bipartisan, effective legislation to address it will require greater engagement from the private sector.”

President Donald Trump’s administration has also committee to ending surprise medical bills, according to the Kaiser Health News report.

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