These Groups are Pushing Congress on Surprise Medical Billing

Dozens of benefits groups are rallying behind a Senate bill that tackles unexpected costs and other healthcare issues.
By: | August 9, 2019 • 2 min read
worker-friendly legislation

Dozens of employer groups are urging lawmakers to pass the Lower Health Care Cost Act, saying the legislation is needed to help reduce rising medical costs for employees and employers.

In a letter filed to Congress this week, 61 groups—including the American Benefits Council, the ERISA Industry Committee, the National Business Group on Health and the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalition—called for legislation that would take aim at surprise medical bills, prescription-drug costs, healthcare transparency and other issues.

“In 2019, Congress has a historic opportunity to lower healthcare costs, improve quality, and ensure fairness, competition and transparency in the healthcare system for all Americans,” they wrote. “This opportunity should not be squandered.”

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The Lower Health Care Cost Act essentially caps payments to out-of-network providers in the event of a surprise bill. It also takes on a number of provisions aimed at boosting transparency around provider-payer contracts. Those changes could result in savings of $7.6 billion for the federal government over the next 10 years, according to a recent estimate by the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation.

The groups called for final legislation to “end the surprise medical billing crisis by enacting a local, market-based benchmark backstop.”

“Rather than a government-mandated binding-arbitration process that is opaque and will allow continued price-gouging of patients, Congress should protect patients from surprise billing in a way that will not increase premiums and total healthcare costs,” they wrote. “And patients should be protected not just once they get to the hospital, but also in the ambulance or air ambulance that takes them there.”

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