House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Ranking Member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, yesterday announced a bipartisan agreement on legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills, which they plan to consider early next year. Under the proposal, the committee leaders said patients receiving a surprise bill from an emergency department or out-of-network provider at an in-network facility “will be held harmless for cost-sharing at the in-network rate.” They said the legislation also would enhance consumer protections and improve information about provider networks, respect the “private market dynamics between insurance plans and providers,” and include an “independent mediated negotiation process” to resolve billing disagreements, among other provisions.
“America’s hospitals and health systems remain committed to protecting patients from unanticipated medical bills that they may incur because of gaps in their insurance coverage or as a result of emergencies,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “We appreciate that the House Ways and Means Committee has put forward a plan to address surprise medical billing that seeks to protect the patient and allow for providers and insurers to negotiate payment rates. We look forward to working with the Committee in the New Year as it addresses this important issue.”