Legislation builds on WA state law prohibiting surprise billing, expands protections to even more patients in the state and across the country
Murray: “No patient seeking the care they need should get hit with an unexpected, exorbitant bill for out-of-network care.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on the passage of a bipartisan deal she brokered to end surprise billing which was included in the omnibus which passed the Senate today.
“No patient seeking the care they need should get hit with an unexpected, exorbitant bill for out-of-network care. That simple reality is all the more important during a pandemic, so I’m pleased we were able to pass a law that ends this practice for patients across the country, without undermining strong state laws like Washington’s or raising premiums. This legislation builds on our state’s law to make sure everyone in Washington, and in our country—including people at large employers—are protected against surprise bills.
“I’m thankful to my HELP colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as well as our partners in the House, who have worked hard over the last year and half to get this across the finish line—particularly Chairman Alexander, and Senators Hassan and Cassidy.”
The final deal—which was negotiated by Senators Alexander, Hassan, and Cassidy, and Representatives Pallone, Walden, Scott, Foxx, Neal, and Brady—also provides three years of funding for community health centers and other critical primary care programs, including the National Health Service Corps, the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, the Special Diabetes Program, and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians. It also includes other important patient protections, like requiring insurance plans to maintain up-to-date directories of in network providers on their website and improving and strengthening enforcement of mental health parity requirements, as well as price transparency provisions.
In addition to prohibiting surprise billing, the omnibus also includes other steps from the Lower Health Care Costs Act Senator Murray fought for to lower prescription drug costs for patients, build vaccine confidence, prevent obesity, strengthen public health data systems, increase access to specialized health care services in underserved areas, and bolster Native American suicide prevention.