January 14, 2020
ASA President responds to The Washington Post
Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., MSHCA, FACHE, FASA, submitted the following letter to the editor to The Washington Post in response to a Jan. 12, 2020 editorial on surprise medical billing.
As President of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, I agree with the January 12 editorial “Congress needs to settle its differences and put an end to surprise medical billing.” As an extremely complicated issue, however, the solution must ensure patients are held harmless while ensuring fair negotiations between insurance companies and providers. Unfortunately, the Pallone-Walden-Alexander-Murray bill promoted by the Board as a “decent second-best plan” is anything but that.
An important fact for readers is that the vast majority of claims for anesthesia services – more than 90% – are “in-network.” Physician anesthesiologists want to be “in network” but in some instances, insurers will not negotiate in good faith. This inability to negotiate and ensure adequate physician networks is essential to fixing the problem.
ASA endorsed surprise medical bills legislation that protects patients, requires insurers to have adequate networks, identifies a fair solution to ensure payment to providers, and utilizes an independent dispute resolution system to resolve disputes between providers and insurers - H.R. 3502, the Protecting People from Surprise Medical Bills Act, bipartisan legislation with 110 co-sponsors and based on New York state’s data-proven model. We are also heartened by the framework that House Ways and Means Committee leaders unveiled in December and look forward to working with Congress to address this issue.
Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., MSHCA, FACHE, FASA
American Society of Anesthesiologists