EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests Sotomayor, Ginsburg should have to recuse themselves on 'Trump related' cases Sanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE’s campaign pollster is warning that swing-state voters oppose a bipartisan bill meant to protect patients from “surprise” medical bills they receive when going out-of-network for emergency care, according to a polling memo obtained exclusively by The Hill.

A survey of voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania conducted by Tony Fabrizio, the president’s campaign pollster, found that a majority of voters in three battleground states believe that health insurers should be on the hook when patients receive “surprise” medical bills for out-of-network emergencies.


The polling data comes as Trump is considering whether to support a bipartisan measure that would put a federally mandated rate cap on the amount that insurers have to pay doctors for out-of-network emergency care.

“Swing state voters see Surprise Medical Billing as a major problem and siding with Insurers who look to sidestep paying these bills is crossways with overwhelming voter sentiment,” Fabrizio wrote in the polling memo.

The survey asked likely voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania who should be responsible for paying for an emergency out-of-network procedure.

Fifty-three percent of voters in Michigan, 56 percent in Pennsylvania and 56 percent in Wisconsin responded to say that the health plan should be on the hook. Between 18 and 23 percent said the patient should pay, and between 9 and 12 percent responded that the doctor or clinic should be responsible.

Only 6 percent of voters in Wisconsin said a government program should address the matter, while 10 percent of Michigan voters and 13 percent of Pennsylvania voters said they support a government program to control costs.

“An overwhelming majority of voters in each state agree emergency care should be covered by health insurance companies regardless of network,” Fabrizio wrote. “Any policy to address this issue that appears to side with the insurance companies could backfire because they are seen as the problem.”

The rate cap bill is sponsored by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderBill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn The Trump administration's harmful and immoral attack on children Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Senate panel to hold hearing on US coronavirus response | Dems demand Trump withdraw religious provider rule | Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan backlash Democratic senators urge Trump administration to request emergency funding for coronavirus response Democrats demand Trump administration withdraw religious provider rule MORE (D-Wash.) and moved out of the Senate Health Committee in June. A similar measure from Reps. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Energy: Green groups to sue over Trump rollback of Obama water rules | GOP climate plan faces pushback from right | Bezos launches B climate initiative GOP climate plan faces pushback — from Republicans Coalition plan seeks to cut carbon emissions in half by 2035 MORE (R-Ore.) and Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (D-N.J.) advanced from the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July.

A separate bill sponsored by Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' MORE (R-La.) would allow a third-party arbitrator to work out the disputed costs, rather than setting price controls.

More than 3 out of 4 voters in the swing states agreed that an arbitrator should settle billing disputes between insurers and doctors and that patients should be left out of it.

“In every state, more than three quarters agree and a majority ‘strongly’ agree that medical billing disputes should be settled through arbitration with patients left out of the middle,” Fabrizio wrote. “Arbitration is a good solution that comes without the political risks that rate-setting legislation comes with.”

About 80 percent of voters in all three states view “surprise” emergency medical billing as a significant problem, with 56 percent of Michigan and Pennsylvania voters and 47 percent of Wisconsin voters describing it as a “major” problem.

There has been a growing drumbeat on the right to oppose the rate capping bill, which is viewed government intervention on behalf of the insurance industry.

"Government price controls on healthcare aren’t the answer! We need more freedom in healthcare, not more government control!" Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCongress set for clash over surveillance reforms Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Pelosi names first-ever House whistleblower ombudsman director MORE (R-Ky.) wrote in a tweet this month.

In a Fox News essay called “Beware of #RINOcare,” conservative activist Charlie Kirk warned that the bill would put the U.S. on the path to “socialized medicine."

“Republicans like Sen. Lamar Alexander are considering the legislative equivalent of a gift basket to the insurance companies, which basically just gives them more leeway to stiff doctors,” Kirk wrote. “The result of this would be a health care market marginally less connected to economic reality, and all the dysfunctions that come with it.”

The Fabrizio survey found that "Medicare for All" is opposed by more than 70 percent of Republicans in the three states, and Fabrizio warned in his memo that any linkage between the “surprise” billing legislation and Medicare for All “would cause problems with the Republican base.”

The Fabrizio, Lee & Associates survey of 500 likely 2020 general election voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin was conducted Aug. 26-28 and has a 4.4 percentage point margin of error.