Legislation in Congress aims to stop surprise medical bills

Washington D.C. Bureau

Emergency room visits are often a surprise…But the bill shouldn’t be. 

“Does everyone here agree that patients should not receive surprise bill?” 

That’s what Chairwoman Anna Eshoo of California and a bipartisan group of politicians made clear to patients, providers, and physicians during a House committee hearing Wednesday. 

“Making sure consumers understand their coverage,” said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey).  

“It is not fair. It should not happen. And we’re going to put a stop to it one way or the other,” said U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon). 

Legislation sponsored by the top lawmakers of the House Energy and Commerce committee, New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone, and Oregon Republican Greg Walden, would force insurance companies to treat out-of-network emergency care as in network for their enrollees.  

It would also prohibit a provider from demanding a patient pay the difference between the price set for a service by the provider and the price the health insurer is willing to pay.   

 “A $50,000 bill for Thomas’ stay in the NICU. We were dumbfounded. We had been at an in-network facility. How could we possibly be responsible for that amount?” said Sonji Wilkes, a Mother from Colorado.  

The senate has been working on its own bipartisan legislation.  

One of the sponsors, Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy, who is a doctor, says his bill does the better job of balancing the concerns of doctors, hospitals and insurance companies. 

“Let these folks go at each other, but they shouldn’t go at each other through the patients. The patient should be held harmless,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R- Louisiana). 

President Trump recently voiced support for the legislation, making it one of the few issues that could clear both the Democrat-controlled House and his desk. 

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