Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to protect patients from surprise medical bills

Lawmakers introduce legislation to stop surprise medical bills

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAFB) - A bipartisan group of senators, including Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, has introduced a bill to protect patients from surprise medical bills.

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, R-La., Michael Bennet, D-Co., Todd Young, R-Ind., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark., and Tom Carper, D-Del, are all members of the Senate Bipartisan Working Group, and introduced their bill, STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act, Thursday, May 16. Senators Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, are also cosponsoring the bill.

Sen. Bill Cassidy speaks on proposed bipartisan bill to stop surprise medical billing

Examples of of patients receiving surprise medical bills includes a patient who got a bill for nearly $109,000 after having a heart attack, and another patient who received a bill for $17,850 for a urine test.

“Patients should be the reason for the care, not an excuse for the bill. We have worked for almost a year with patient groups, doctors, insurers, and hospitals to refine this proposal. This is a bipartisan solution ensuring patients are protected and don’t receive surprise bills that are uncapped by anything but a sense of shame,” said Cassidy.

Click here to read the full proposal.

“We work every day with patients who have done everything right—have insurance, inquire about network status—but they’re still caught in the middle of a system over which they have no control. They still wind up with enormous surprise bills,” said Alan Balch, CEO of the National Patient Advocate Foundation. “We are excited to see lawmakers working together to create a more fair system for patients and their families.”

The bill addresses three situations in which surprise medical billing would be banned:

  • Emergency services: The bill would ensure that a patient is only required to pay the in-network cost-sharing amount required by their health plan for emergency services, regardless of them being treated at an out-of-network facility or by an out-of-network provider.
  • Non-Emergency services following an emergency service at an out-of-network facility: This bill would protect patients who require additional healthcare services after receiving emergency care at an out-of-network facility, but cannot be moved without medical transport from the out-of-network facility.
  • Non-Emergency services performed by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility: The bill would ensure that patients owe no more than their in-network cost sharing in the case of a non-emergency service that is provided by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility. Further, patients could not receive a surprise medical bill for services that are ordered by an in-network provider at a provider’s office, but are provided by an out-of-network provider, such as out-of-network laboratory or imaging services.

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