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.

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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 CassidyUN Security Council to meet after Turkey launches Syria offensive Trump faces growing GOP revolt on Syria To win the federal paid family leave debate, allow states to lead the way MORE (R-La.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa 2020 Democrats demand action on guns after Santa Clarita shooting Biden, Buttigieg condemn rocket attacks on Israel MORE (D-Colo.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanHillicon Valley: Facebook launches 'News Tab' | Senate passes bill to take on 'deepfakes' | Schumer outlines vision for electric cars Senate passes legislation to combat 'deepfake' videos Hillicon Valley: Senators seek national security review of TikTok | TikTok denies claims of Chinese government influence | CNN chief rips Facebook policy on political ads | Dem questions DHS' handling of personal data 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.