House Committee Approves Surprise Billing Legislation, Raising Concerns Over Increased Employer Costs

July 19, 2019

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed by voice vote a bill that would end surprise medical bills for patients but create a baseball-style arbitration process to determine how much employers would have to pay above a median in-network rate to out-of-network providers who seek higher reimbursement for their services.

Currently, employers are not obligated to help employees pay surprise medical bills, but HR Policy and other employer groups have supported legislation to address this by establishing benchmark reimbursement rates.  This was the procedure included in the bill as introduced, but an amendment adopted by the Committee added the potential for a higher amount as determined through binding arbitration.

Looking ahead:  The bill will be considered by the House Education and Labor Committee and Ways and Means Committee before moving to the House floor sometime this fall.  The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has also passed an HR Policy-supported bipartisan bill to reduce out-of-pocket health care costs using a median in-network benchmark rate to resolve surprise medical bills without an arbitration process.