The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee have reached a deal on health care legislation that includes a proposal to address payment disputes over surprise medical bills.
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican from Tennessee, is pushing the bill.
This, according to a press release from the National Taxpayers Union.
‘Unfortunately, the legislation continues to rely on a benchmark payment for out-of-network providers, an unacceptable form of rate-setting that will only limit access to care and lead to a system of government-picked winners and losers,” members of the NTU said in a press release.
“Though more details of the legislative negotiations are forthcoming, press reports indicate the legislation will add an arbitration component to the benchmark system that already passed out of each committee earlier this year. The National Taxpayers Union believes it is critically important to protect patients from surprise bills, but believes there are alternative fixes that address this problem while not relying on government-heavy schemes to solve payment disputes.”
NTU Executive Vice President Brandon Arnold said taxpayers must remain wary, as government rate-setting means federal bureaucrats write the rules.
“Lawmakers should avoid jamming this proposal onto year-end legislation, and return in 2020 with a balanced, measured approach that considers market-based alternatives to the surprise billing issue,” Arnold said in the press release.
NTU recently sent a letter to all members of Congress ahead of their final legislative session of 2019, urging them to avoid hitching last-minute policy riders onto a larger spending bill, and instead to pass a clean funding bill that keeps government open into the 2020 calendar year.
As The Tennessee Star reported in July, surprise medical billing happens when a patient receives out-of-network care without his or her knowledge – either in an emergency or during a visit to an in-network facility. Weeks later, insurance companies send bills demanding patients pay money for services they assumed insurance would cover.
Members of Americans for Prosperity, the Center for a Free Economy, FreedomWorks, Institute for Liberty, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance among others, signed the letter.
The letter asks Congressional leaders to avoid including surprise billing legislation in a larger year-end legislative package.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Sens Alexander and Murray on the HELP Committee” by the HELP Committee.