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 CassidyTensions boil over on Senate floor amid coronavirus debate  Overnight Energy: Democratic lawmakers seek emissions reductions in airline bailout | House Dems warn Trump against oil industry bailout | GOP senators ask Saudis to stabilize oil market GOP senators ask Saudis to stabilize oil market MORE (R-La.), Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? Overnight Health Care: Trump triggers emergency powers in coronavirus fight | McConnell sets first stimulus vote for Sunday | Five sticking points for stimulus talks | Treasury delays tax filing deadline | Dems push insurers to cover virus tests Democrats press insurers to cover all coronavirus testing MORE (D-N.H.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Hillicon Valley: Facebook launches portal for coronavirus information | EU sees spike in Russian misinformation on outbreak | Senate Dem bill would encourage mail-in voting | Lawmakers question safety of Google virus website We need a massive economic response to counter the threat of the coronavirus MORE (D-Colo.), comes as the House also introduced legislation this week, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpHealth insurers Cigna, Humana waive out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus treatment Puerto Rico needs more federal help to combat COVID-19 Fauci says April 30 extension is 'a wise and prudent decision' 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 YoungRand Paul's coronavirus diagnosis sends shockwaves through Senate GOP lukewarm on talk of airline bailout Trump, GOP scramble to keep economy from derailing MORE (R-Ind.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP senators urge Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC Schumer: Senate should 'explore' remote voting if coronavirus sparks lengthy break Turning the virus into a virtue — for the planet MORE (R-Alaska) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrat calls on EPA to withdraw 'secret science' rule Blame game heats up as Senate motion fails Democratic senators, attorneys general slam proposal to roll back protections for birds MORE (D-Del.) also joined in unveiling the bill on Thursday.  

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSticking points force stimulus package talks to spill into Sunday GOP drafting stimulus package without deal with Democrats Senate coronavirus stimulus talks spill into Saturday 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 MurraySenate coronavirus stimulus talks spill into Saturday Senate Democrats propose canceling student loan payments during coronavirus Stimulus plan hinges on McConnell, Schumer repairing toxic relationship 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.