Says almost everyone wants this problem solved, one out of five patients who visits an emergency room eventually receives an unexpected bill
WASHINGTON, December 16, 2019 — Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said he intends to do everything he can to keep surprise medical billing at the top of Congress’ to-do list in 2020 until it’s done.
“Protecting patients from surprise billing is something almost everyone wants fixed. One out of five patients who goes to an emergency room eventually receives an unexpected bill for as much as $300 or $3,000 or $30,000 because the doctor who treated them was not part of the same insurance network as the hospital. The Senate Health Committee has approved a solution by a vote of 20-3. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved a solution unanimously. We’ve reached an agreement with the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the President strongly supports. The only people who don’t want this fixed are the people who benefit from these excessive fees, including the private equity groups which control three of the largest companies that handle billing and staffing for emergency rooms.”
Chairman Alexander continued, “Significant progress will be made this week on lowering health care costs, as the government funding legislation that Congress will consider includes five provisions from the Lower Health Care Costs Act including: three provisions to lower the cost of prescription drugs by encouraging competition; raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21; and better protecting Americans from diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. But the legislation fails to deal with surprise medical bills and fails to enact legislation that Senator Murray and I have introduced to fund the nation’s 1,400 community health centers for five years. I will continue to do everything I can to keep surprise medical bills at the top of the congressional priority list until it’s done.”
Provisions of the Lower Health Care Costs Act included in the government funding legislation:
· CREATES Act—increase generic drug competition and lower the cost of drugs
· Insulin—two provisions to increase biological drug competition and lower drug costs, including in the insulin market
· Tobacco-21—raise purchasing age of tobacco to 21
· Kay Hagan Tick Act—better protect Americans from diseases transmitted by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas
Provisions of the Lower Health Care Costs Act that Congress should continue working on in the New Year:
· Ending the practice of surprise medical billing
· Five years of funding for community health centers and other public health programs
· Lowering the cost of prescription drugs
· Increasing transparency in the health care market
All in all, the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019, which passed the Senate health committee 20-3 in June, includes provisions offered by 80 different senators—46 Democrats and 34 Republicans.