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Senators Cosponsor Legislation to End Surprise Medical Bills; Lower Health Care Costs


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U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan highlights importance of legislation during recent committee hearing.

12/5/2018 9:00

Two U.S. senators recently introduced companion legislation that would help consumers manage health care costs and stop unexpected medical bills.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., introduced the Reducing Costs for Out-of-Network Services Act of 2018 in October to “combat escalating out-of-pocket health care costs for uninsured patients and for patients in the individual health insurance market who receive out-of-network care,” according to a news release.

Co-sponsor U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., introduced companion legislation to help end surprise medical bills for consumers as a result of receiving care they didn’t realize was considered out-of-network.

“Shaheen’s legislation protects patients who are uninsured or in the individual health insurance market, while Hassan’s legislation protects patients with employer-sponsored health plans,” according to the news release.

“The bills that Senator Hassan and I are introducing would help fix chronic problems in our health care system by lowering costs for patients and increasing access to health services,” Shaheen said.

Shaheen’s bill, would cap the amount that hospitals and physicians could charge uninsured patients and out-of-network patients who have individual market coverage, according to the news release.

The Reducing Costs for Out-of-Network Services Act, it states, would:

  • Significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients who have individual market health insurance and receive care from out-of-network hospitals and physicians;
  • Substantially reduce out-of-pocket costs for uninsured patients who could otherwise be charged very high “full charge” prices for hospital and physician services; and
  • Reduce premiums for individual market health plans by improving individual market insurers’ ability to hold down negotiated provider payments and costs for in-network care.

Shaheen is also co-sponsoring Hassan’s legislation, the No More Surprise Medical Bills Act of 2018 that will help “protect patients with medical emergencies from surprise billing by prohibiting hospitals and providers from charging more than the in-network amount.”

Hospitals would also be required to notify patients in non-emergency situations if their services are is out-of-network and obtain their consent before providing care.

In November, Hassan highlighted the importance of her legislation during a hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee focused on health care costs.

“Studies have shown that nearly 1 in 5 emergency room visits involves care from providers who are out-of-network, and non-emergency situations often result in surprise medical bills as well,” Hassan said.

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