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 CassidyBig Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat Trump trade deal faces uncertain Senate timeline On The Money: Senate panel advances Trump's new NAFTA despite GOP gripes | Trade deficit falls to three-year low | Senate confirms Trump pick for small business chief MORE (R-La.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans Klobuchar on missing campaigning for impeachment: 'I can do two things at once' MORE (D-Colo.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanCyberattacks against North Dakota state government skyrocket to 15M per month Hillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Bipartisan group of senators introduces legislation to boost state cybersecurity leadership 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.