Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills

Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills
© Getty

A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced legislation to protect patients from massive, unexpected medical bills, as momentum grows around the issue.

The legislation, led by 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.), Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanHillicon Valley: Senate passes bill to boost cyber help for agencies, businesses | Watchdog warns Energy Department failing to protect grid | FTC sues Match for allegedly conning users Senate approves bill to boost cyber assistance for federal agencies, private sector Democrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights MORE (D-N.H.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate 2020 Presidential Candidates Bennet releases housing affordability plan MORE (D-Colo.), comes as the House also introduced legislation this week, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China MORE called for action last week.

ADVERTISEMENT
The legislation would protect patients from getting massive, “surprise” medical bills when they get care from a doctor who is not in their insurance network.

“The patient should be the reason for the care, not an excuse for a bill,” Cassidy said at a press conference Thursday to unveil the legislation.

Hassan, a Democrat, noted that she joined Trump at the White House for an event last week to call for an end to surprise bills.

“There is strong bipartisan momentum behind ending the absurd practice of surprise medical bills,” she said. “Senator Cassidy and I were at the White House last week to join the president as he spoke out on the importance of addressing this issue.”

Sens. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungFederal aid is reaching storm-damaged communities too late Senators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir Congress set for chaotic fall sprint MORE (R-Ind.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski warns against rushing to conclusions on Trump impeachment GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Republicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   MORE (R-Alaska) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperInstead of raising the gas tax, stop wasting money on frivolous projects To stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists MORE (D-Del.) also joined in unveiling the bill on Thursday.  

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMcConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows GOP senator: 'Inappropriate' to discuss opponents, but impeachment a 'mistake' The revolution has arrived in college admissions MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate’s health committee, is working on his own proposal with the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Biz groups say Warren labor plan would be disaster Freedom of the press under fire in Colorado MORE (D-Wash.), that he hopes to unveil in June.

“We have been trying to take committee leadership's concerns,” Cassidy said when asked about working with the panel’s leadership.

The bill introduced Thursday would use an outside arbitrator as a back-up to help set the price that insurers must pay medical providers, after the legislation takes the patient out of the middle.

This methodology is one of the points of disagreement, one that industry groups are jockeying over.

The House bill sets a payment rate without using arbitration.