June 19, 2019
ASA Opposes Senate HELP Surprise Medical Bills Proposal
CHICAGO – Today, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) announced strong opposition to the “surprise medical bill” provisions of the recently released U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) proposal, “The Lower Health Care Costs Act.” ASA supports addressing surprise medical bills using a model like the fully vetted, real-world functioning model that works in New York state. This model protects patients and has worked effectively for physicians and insurance companies.
“The surprise medical bills provisions in this proposal are completely unworkable for our physicians and threaten to fundamentally disrupt health care delivery, said ASA President Linda J. Mason M.D., FASA. “Under this proposal, insurance companies will have no incentive to create adequate networks of providers. As a result, it is expected that patients receiving health care from out-of-network providers will only increase. Although less than 10% of all physician anesthesiologists’ insurance claims are out of network, ASA vigorously opposes the government rate setting included in this legislation.”
ASA is pleased this proposal protects patients by holding them harmless from additional out-of-pocket expenses, however, we strongly urge the HELP Committee to rebalance this legislation by adopting principles consistent with the successful model used in New York. It is a solution with robust patient protections that removes patients from billing disputes, so they are responsible for nothing more than their in-network copays and deductibles and creates a dispute resolution process to address physician and insurer disagreements. The New York model has been in place since 2015 and has reduced complaints related to surprise bills.
Surprise medical bills – also known as out of network payments - occur when a patient receives a bill for the difference between the out-of-network provider’s fee and the amount covered by the patient’s health insurance, after co-pays and deductible. ASA has been actively engaging policy makers to protect patients from unanticipated medical bills.
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 53,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves. Physician anesthesiologists are experts in pain management and are at the forefront of implementing best practices and interventions to reduce opioid use.
For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. Like ASA on Facebook; follow ASALifeline on Twitter.
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