Conservative lawmakers warn Pelosi about 'rate-setting' surprise billing fix

Conservative lawmakers warn Pelosi about 'rate-setting' surprise billing fix
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Conservative Republicans came out against a bipartisan proposal that would end the "surprise" medical bills patients sometimes get from doctors and providers. 

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi calls Trump's decision to withdraw US from WHO 'an act of extraordinary senselessness' House Democrats unveil measure to condemn police brutality The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Khanna says President Trump threatening violence against US citizens; Trump terminating relationship with WHO MORE (D-Calif.) dated Monday, 39 Republicans, led by Rep. Andy HarrisAndrew (Andy) Peter HarrisCoronavirus protests take aim at scientists, elites OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court vacates nearly 300 oil and gas leases on public lands | GOP lawmaker seeks review of Harvard study tying air pollution to coronavirus deaths GOP lawmaker seeks review of Harvard study tying air pollution to coronavirus deaths MORE (R-Md.) warned against passing a bill that would impose what they see as "government-dictated price controls" on private negotiations between insurers and providers. 

"Surprise medical billing proposals that give the federal government the power to set rates between two private entities — insurers and health care providers — could have a devastating impact on our constituents," reads the letter, which was signed by some of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, including Reps. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump to return to Florida for rescheduled SpaceX launch Pence names new press secretary House leaders take vote-counting operations online MORE (R-N.C.) and Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers House punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate MORE (R-Ohio.) 


Congress wants to end the practice of surprise billing, which can happen to patients who go to an in-network hospital or emergency room but are treated by an out-of-network doctor. When insurers don't pay the full amount, providers often bill patients for the remainder. 

While lawmakers agree insurers should pay these bills, a debate is brewing over how much they should have to pay providers for their services. 

One measure offered by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenBipartisan senators call for investigation of TikTok's child privacy policies Hillicon Valley: Facebook permanently shifting thousands of jobs to remote work | Congressional action on driverless cars hits speed bump during pandemic | Republicans grill TikTok over data privacy concerns Top Commerce Republicans grill TikTok parent company MORE (R-Ore.) that is favored by insurers would set provider rates based on the average price for the services provided in a geographical area, a method called “benchmarking.”

But conservatives argue that method would reduce access to care and increase the power of the federal government. 

"To be clear, we believe that patients should be protected from surprise medical bills, which can place a heavy financial burden on individuals that received care outside of their insurance network," the letter states. 


"In pursuing such protections, there exist several proposals that hold patients harmless, increase transparency and resolve disputes that arise from surprise bills," it adds. 

The lawmakers didn't endorse an alternative proposal. But a rival bipartisan measure offered by members of the House Ways and Means Committee gives the decision on how much the insurers should pay the providers to an outside arbiter. That approach is favored by hospitals.

Pelosi is hoping to include a surprise billing fix in a spending package Congress must pass by May 22.