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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 TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 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 CassidyTwo Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 Michigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-La.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetCotton mocks NY Times over claim of nonpartisanship, promises to submit op-eds as test Democrats sense momentum for expanding child tax credit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' MORE (D-Colo.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungRepublicans: Supreme Court won't toss ObamaCare Vulnerable Republicans break with Trump on ObamaCare lawsuit Senate GOP eyes early exit MORE (R-Ind.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats allege EPA plans to withhold funding from 'anarchist' cities | Montana asks court to throw out major public lands decisions after ousting BLM director | It's unknown if fee reductions given to oil producers prevented shutdowns Democrats allege EPA plans to withhold funding from 'anarchist' cities Energy innovation bill can deliver jobs and climate progress MORE (D-Del.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Murkowski says she will vote to confirm Barrett to Supreme Court on Monday McConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session MORE (R-Alaska) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanGOP coronavirus bill blocked as deal remains elusive Hollywood gives Biden's digital campaign final star-studded push Democrats step up hardball tactics as Supreme Court fight heats up MORE (D-N.H.).