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 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.), 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.) and 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.), comes as the House also introduced legislation this week, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' 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 YoungIran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner Senate GOP's campaign arm hauls in million in 2019 Sens. Kaine, Lee: 'We should not be at war with Iran unless Congress authorizes it' MORE (R-Ind.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump MORE (R-Alaska) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrats ask if US citizens were detained at border checkpoints due to Iranian national origin Democrats, greens blast Trump rollback of major environmental law EPA employees push 'bill of rights' to protect scientific integrity MORE (D-Del.) also joined in unveiling the bill on Thursday.  

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff Trump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Trump Jr. to stump for ex-ambassador running for Tennessee Senate seat 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 request briefing on intel behind Trump's embassy threat claim Democrats ask if US citizens were detained at border checkpoints due to Iranian national origin Overnight Health Care: Trump knocks 'mini Mike Bloomberg' over health care | Appeals court skeptical of Trump rule on TV drug ads | Oklahoma sues opioid distributors 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.