June 13, 2019
Take Action as Congress Continues to Debate on Surprise Medical Bills
On June 12, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing entitled, “No More Surprises: Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills” on the “No Surprises Act” discussion draft introduced by Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR). In a formal communication to the Subcommittee, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) expressed grave concerns about proposed solutions to so-called “surprise medical bills” that would unfairly disadvantage physicians.
The hearing featured ASA member Sherif Zaafran, M.D., FASA, on behalf of Physicians for Fair Coverage along with Sonji Wilkes, a patient advocate; Rick Sherlock, President and CEO of the Association of Air Medical Services; James Gelfand, Senior Vice President of Health Policy for the ERISA Industry Committee; Thomas Nickels, Executive Vice President of the American Hospital Association; Jeanette Thornton, Senior Vice President of Product, Employer, and Commercial Policy for America’s Health Insurance Plans; Clair McAndrew, Director of Campaigns and Partnerships at Families USA; and Vidor E. Friedman, M.D., FACEP, President of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
ASA has been actively engaged in Congressional efforts to address surprise medical bills. In the formal communication to the Subcommittee, ASA commended the Committee’s thoughtful consideration of the topic and how the No Surprises Act is an important step to help protect patients from surprise medical bills. However, ASA shared concerns with the discussion draft’s stipulation of a median contracted in-network rate for the minimum payment standard, a lack of transparency requirements for health plans and absence of network adequacy provisions.
ASA believes that a better solution to ending surprise medical bills is included in “The Protect Patients, Prevent Surprise Medical Bills” proposal, recently released by Energy and Commerce Committee member Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D. and Representative Phil Roe, M.D. The concepts included in the “Ruiz-Roe” outline are based on the successful state model of New York and ASA encouraged the Committee to incorporate this into the Committee’s proposal as they finalize legislation.
Last month as part of ASA’s annual Legislative Conference, over 600 ASA members traveled to Capitol Hill to express support for ending “surprise medical bills” and for protecting patients from receiving unanticipated bills from out-of-network providers as outlined in the Ruiz-Roe proposal.
To send a message to your Representative on this issue, click here.
To find out more about the Subcommittee hearing, click here.