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 TrumpDefense industrial base workers belong at home during this public health crisis Maduro pushes back on DOJ charges, calls Trump 'racist cowboy' House leaders hope to vote Friday on coronavirus stimulus 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 CassidyTensions boil over on Senate floor amid coronavirus debate  Overnight Energy: Democratic lawmakers seek emissions reductions in airline bailout | House Dems warn Trump against oil industry bailout | GOP senators ask Saudis to stabilize oil market GOP senators ask Saudis to stabilize oil market MORE (R-La.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHillicon Valley: Facebook launches portal for coronavirus information | EU sees spike in Russian misinformation on outbreak | Senate Dem bill would encourage mail-in voting | Lawmakers question safety of Google virus website We need a massive economic response to counter the threat of the coronavirus Senator calls for cybersecurity review at health agencies after hacking incident MORE (D-Colo.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungRand Paul's coronavirus diagnosis sends shockwaves through Senate GOP lukewarm on talk of airline bailout Trump, GOP scramble to keep economy from derailing MORE (R-Ind.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrat calls on EPA to withdraw 'secret science' rule Blame game heats up as Senate motion fails Democratic senators, attorneys general slam proposal to roll back protections for birds MORE (D-Del.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP senators urge Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC Schumer: Senate should 'explore' remote voting if coronavirus sparks lengthy break Turning the virus into a virtue — for the planet MORE (R-Alaska) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? Overnight Health Care: Trump triggers emergency powers in coronavirus fight | McConnell sets first stimulus vote for Sunday | Five sticking points for stimulus talks | Treasury delays tax filing deadline | Dems push insurers to cover virus tests Democrats press insurers to cover all coronavirus testing MORE (D-N.H.).