The House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions today held a hearing on protecting patients from surprise medical bills. In a statement submitted for the record, AHA called this “a top priority for our members” and shared its recently unveiled guiding principles to help inform the ongoing federal policy debate regarding surprise billing. Among other comments, AHA said that most hospitals have protocols to notify patients of the potential for out-of-network care, which is important but “not in and of itself a solution.” It also said that ensuring adequate networks and educating patients about their health insurance are “critical to addressing surprise medical bills,” and that bundling emergency services would be administratively complex “and, alone, do nothing to protect patients from surprise bills.”
 
In a joint letter today to committee leaders, the AHA, Federation of America’s Hospitals and American Medical Association said “bundled payments are not appropriate for emergency care and have not been sufficiently tested for widespread adoption for other types of care.” The letter also was sent to the other committees with jurisdiction over surprise medical bills — the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees and the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees.
 
AHA also urged in its written statement that the committee reject legislative proposals to specify a national reimbursement rate for out-of-network services, which would “create a disincentive for insurers to maintain adequate provider networks” and fail to account for individual market factors, and asked the committee to consider ways to protect consumers from surprise bills involving air ambulances.
 
Testifying at the hearing were witnesses from the Brookings Institution, American Benefits Council, Families USA, and Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.

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