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 Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again 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 CassidyThe Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? Overnight Health Care — Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Poll finds Trump vulnerable on health care in battleground states | HHS must respond to petition on abortion referral ban by Thursday | Wyden presses health officials about CBD regulations The Hill's 12:30 Report: New revelations from Trump's exclusive sit-down with The Hill MORE (R-La.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand Bennet2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate The Hill's 12:30 Report: Anticipation high ahead of first debate Where 2020 Democrats stand in betting markets ahead of first debate MORE (D-Colo.), Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOvernight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale Senate votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ind.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperHillicon Valley: Investigation finds federal agencies failed to address cyber vulnerabilities | Officials crack down on illegal robocallers | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Senators grill Google exec on 'persuasive technology' Senate investigation finds multiple federal agencies left sensitive data vulnerable to cyberattacks for past decade Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions MORE (D-Del.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' Pressure builds to secure health care data Trump plan to strip public land conservation fund gets bipartisan pushback MORE (R-Alaska) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanSecond ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Overnight Health Care: Poll finds most Americans misunderstand scope of 'Medicare for All' | Planned Parenthood chief readies for 2020 | Drugmakers' lawsuit ramps up fight with Trump MORE (D-N.H.).