Trump calls for cracking down on surprise medical bills

Trump calls for cracking down on surprise medical bills
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE on Wednesday spoke out against surprise medical bills that patients often cannot afford, highlighting an issue that has received bipartisan concern in Congress.

“The health care system too often harms people with some unfair surprises ... medical bills and the like,” Trump said at a roundtable at the White House, along with patients who had received unexpectedly large bills from hospitals.

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“We're going to stop all of it, and it's very important to me,” Trump added.

Cracking down on surprise medical bills is seen as a rare area of possible bipartisan action on health care. Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyA cash advance to consider Bottom Line I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King MORE (R-La.) unveiled bipartisan legislation to end surprise medical bills in September, and Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanTrump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Empower the VA with the tools to help our veterans Schumer to Trump: Demand McConnell hold vote on background check bill MORE (D-N.H.) has legislation on the topic as well.

Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Speaker Pelosi, seize the moment to make history on drug pricing House Democrats sue Treasury to turn over Trump tax returns MORE (D-Texas) also has a bill in the House to crack down on the practice. 

Trump spoke of patients who “go in, they have a procedure, and then all of a sudden they can’t afford it, they had no idea it was so bad.”

He said his vision is for patients to know “exactly what the cost is" before they receive care.

Several stories of patients who landed surprise medical bills have gotten widespread attention and helped galvanize calls for action in recent months.

For example, in August, NPR reported on a teacher in Texas who got a bill for $108,951 from the hospital for care for his heart attack, even after his insurer had paid $55,840.

The details of any proposal to end practices like this will be closely watched by health care industry groups, who will be examining whether insurers or hospitals are asked to bear more of the brunt of the cost of picking up the tab instead of patients.