Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills

Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills
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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 CassidyRepublicans grumble over Trump shifting military funds to wall Push on 'surprise' medical bills hits new roadblocks Iowa professor resigns after saying he's affiliated with antifa MORE (R-La.), Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanOvernight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Lawmakers weigh responses to rash of ransomware attacks Hillicon Valley: Google to pay 0M to settle child privacy charges against YouTube | Tech giants huddle with intel officials on election security | Top IT official names China main cyber threat MORE (D-N.H.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetPartisan divisions sharpen as independent voters fade Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying The Hill's 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers MORE (D-Colo.), comes as the House also introduced legislation this week, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE called for action last week.

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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 YoungSenators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir Congress set for chaotic fall sprint Overnight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess MORE (R-Ind.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell lashes out at Democrats over 'unhinged' criticism of Kavanaugh The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year MORE (R-Alaska) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperCost for last three government shutdowns estimated at billion Lawmakers grill manufacturers over 'forever chemicals' contamination EPA ordered to set stronger smog standards MORE (D-Del.) also joined in unveiling the bill on Thursday.  

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar Alexander The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Liberal group urges Senate panel to vote against Scalia as Labor secretary Suburban anxiety drives GOP on guns 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 MurrayOvernight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Trump's sinking polls embolden Democrats to play hardball Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall 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.