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

President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit 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 AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayHawley pens op-ed to defend decision to object to electoral votes amid pushback Demolition at the Labor Department, too Hawley, Cruz face rising anger, possible censure MORE (D-Wash.) and moved out of the Senate Health Committee in June. A similar measure from Reps. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHouse Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Energy issues rule allowing companies to develop own efficiency tests for products | GOP lawmakers push back on Federal Reserve's climate risk efforts Bipartisan fix for 'surprise' medical bills hits roadblock MORE (R-Ore.) and Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Democrats urge Amazon to investigate, recall 'defective' products Asbestos ban stalls in Congress amid partisan fight Pharma execs say FDA will not lower standards for coronavirus vaccine MORE (D-N.J.) advanced from the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July.

A separate bill sponsored by Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Senator releases photos of man wanted in connection with Capitol riot Electoral College fight splits GOP as opposition grows to election challenge 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 PaulMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Legislatures boost security after insurrection, FBI warnings Former Missouri senator says backing Hawley was 'worst mistake of my life' 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.