Top White House official warns hospitals on surprise medical bills

Top White House official warns hospitals on surprise medical bills
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A top White House policy adviser on Monday warned hospitals that they need to address the issue of surprise medical bills if they don’t want Congress to do it for them.

“If hospitals, providers and issuers don’t protect these patients from financial harm, Congress and the administration will need to act,” said Joe Grogan, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Grogan was speaking at the Federation of American Hospitals’ annual conference in Washington.

Calls for action against so-called surprise medical bills have been growing, and legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills is seen as one of the most likely areas for bipartisan action on health care this year.

In the Senate, a bipartisan bill is being drafted by a group including Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidySenate passes bill to undo tax increase on Gold Star military families Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills MORE (R-La.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Overnight Energy: Warren wants Dems to hold climate-focused debate | Klobuchar joins candidates rejecting fossil fuel money | 2020 contender Bennet offers climate plan CNN announces four more town halls featuring 2020 Dems MORE (D-Colo.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills Work on surprise medical bills goes into overdrive MORE (D-N.H.). The lawmakers have said they are gathering feedback from industry groups.

A surprise bill usually occurs when a patient receives a sizable bill after going to a hospital, often because they received treatment from a doctor outside the patient’s insurance network.

Industry groups are jockeying over the legislation to ensure they do not take a huge financial hit, with insurance companies largely on one side and hospitals and doctors largely on the other.

Grogan said the administration has not yet coalesced around a particular solution to the problem, but warned that any likely legislation or administrative action will be worse than if hospitals solve the issue themselves.

“You have to come up with a solution, or bad things could happen because you’ll have policymaking being made by people that don’t understand the system nearly as well as you,” Grogan said.