Bipartisan senators ask industry for information on surprise medical bills

Bipartisan senators ask industry for information on surprise medical bills
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of senators is asking industry groups for information as they plan legislation to prevent patients from getting massive, unexpected medical bills.

The lawmakers sent letters on Tuesday to a variety of insurers and medical providers asking detailed questions about data on their billing and payment procedures.

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The letter is a sign of the increased activity around an issue that is seen as a rare major area of health policy that could see bipartisan action this year.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Schiff rips Conway's 'display of alternative facts' on Russian election interference MORE gave the effort a boost last month when he held an event with patients who had received surprise medical bills.

Patients can get large surprise bills even if they have insurance, if one of the doctors they saw happened to be outside of their insurance network.

Legislation would protect patients from having to pay exorbitant costs in that scenario. Insurers and medical providers are jockeying over how the payments will be worked out.

“We want to protect patients from costly surprise bills while preventing undue disruption in the health care system,” the senators wrote. “To meet this goal, it is critical that we receive additional data and more complete feedback in order to refine and inform our legislative proposal.”

The letter was sent by Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyGOP senator issues stark warning to Republicans on health care Bipartisan senators offer bill to expand electric vehicle tax credit Menendez, Rubio lead Senate effort to regulate Venezuelan sanctions MORE (R-La.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetMichael Bennet declared cancer-free, paving way for possible 2020 run License to discriminate: Religious exemption laws are trampling rights in rural America Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Colo.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungGOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback Menendez, Rubio lead Senate effort to regulate Venezuelan sanctions Senate GOP proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats MORE (R-Ind.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Koch network launches ad campaign opposing Trump's proposed gas tax Big Dem names show little interest in Senate MORE (D-Del.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiCain says he 'won't run away from criticism' in push for Fed seat Cain says he won't back down, wants to be nominated to Fed License to discriminate: Religious exemption laws are trampling rights in rural America MORE (R-Alaska) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanOvernight Health Care: CEO of largest private health insurer slams 'Medicare for All' plans | Dem bill targets youth tobacco use | CVS fined over fake painkiller prescriptions | Trump, first lady to discuss opioid crisis at summit GOP senators divided on Trump trade pushback Former Democratic aide pleads guilty to doxing GOP senators attending Kavanaugh hearing MORE (D-N.H.).