White House Calls on Congress to Pass Legislation Ending Surprise Medical Bills

May 10, 2019

President Trump announced a new push for bipartisan legislation designed to eliminate surprise medical bills based on contract reforms that would prohibit hospital contracts with health care providers that are not in the same insurance networks.

Patients should not be held responsible:  The administration is encouraging Congress to pass legislation that will prevent patients from getting hit with large out-of-pocket costs when they have no choice but to see an out-of-network provider, especially in emergency situations.  For elective procedures, the administration says it would endorse legislation requiring hospitals to provide greater transparency on out-of-pocket costs before patients receive care.

As health insurers and large employers continue to place a greater emphasis on medical networks, large surprise health care bills have become a growing problem for patients who unknowingly visit providers that are out of network.

HR Policy concerns:  In a letter submitted for a congressional hearing on the issue, HR Policy urged lawmakers not to create a mandatory binding arbitration process for resolving these bills.  Administration officials said Thursday that they do not support arbitration, which could lead to “a lot of potential abuses” that would hurt patients.

Outlook:  A bipartisan group of senators led by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) have been working to develop legislation for the past several months. The group said Thursday that they plan to have a bill to the President’s desk by July.