Congress has taken significant steps in moving legislation aimed at tackling the issue of surprise billing. This culminated in late July when the House Energy & Commerce Committee reported out H.R. 3630, the “No Surprises Act,” legislation designed to protect patients from unanticipated medical bills for services provided by out-of-network physicians and facilities in emergencies and other situations where they had no opportunity to choose an in-network provider. The committee’s action follows similar steps taken by the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last month.
While the majority of health care stakeholder groups support the patient protections included in H.R. 3630, the American Medical Association has expressed concerns about the bill because of provisions that would resolve payment disputes between physicians and insurers by setting out-of-network payments at the median amount each insurer pays for in-network care.
“The willingness of the committee to vote in favor of adding an appeals process, albeit imperfect, represents progress,” said Terri Folk, AMA regional political director. “The physician advocacy community may have opportunities with two other House committees to make further improvements on this and other elements in the legislation, but we can’t leave anything to chance. Physicians need to be communicating with their legislators now that surprise billing needs to be fixed in a way that holds insurance companies accountable while protecting patients.”
Folk urged physicians to take advantage of Congress’s annual six-week district work period. During this time members hold town halls, listening sessions, coffee-on-the-corner events, meetings with constituents and, most importantly, they listen to the concerns of the people they represent. The AMA has prepared an August Recess “Action Kit” and recommends the following actions.
- Visit the AMA’s congressional directory to be connected with your legislators’ district office
- Visit Town Hall Project to easily find when your member of Congress will be holding a town hall or constituent event near you
- Unable to attend a district event during the recess? Take a moment to write your members of Congress about this important issue.