In a letter obtained by the Daily Caller, a group of 24 conservative groups, including Americans for Tax Reform, the Club for Growth, and Heritage Action, are warning Congress “to reject any attempt to include any language that would seek to address surprise medical billing by creating a government-mandated benchmark (i.e. rate-setting) to determine out-of-network rates for physicians.” They warn, “Government price controls for medical bills would be particularly devastating at a time of great stress for our nation’s patients and healthcare providers.” (RELATED: Senate Passes Coronavirus Aid Package)
Sen. Lamar Alexander and Rep. Frank Pallone are pushing for a surprise billing ban in Congress’ third COVID-19 legislative package, sources tell me. Provider groups, hospitals really don’t like their combination benchmark payment-arbitration approach https://t.co/80XJZzv2AD
— Rachel Cohrs (@rachelcohrs) March 17, 2020
The letter was in response to a report from Modern Healthcare Tuesday saying, “Senate health committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and House Energy & Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) are pushing for legislation banning surprise medical bills to be included in Congress’ third bill responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.” (RELATED: Don’t Let ‘Surprise Medical Billing’ Pave The Way For ‘Medicare for All’)
Many Congressional Democrats have been pushing for legislation to impose controls on out-of-network charges, but Republicans have been opposing them as “European-style price controls.” At a hearing last month, Georgia Republican Congressman Richard Wayne Allen said, “We cannot go in the direction of rate setting.”
In their letter, the conservative groups said, “It is critical that at a time of a national emergency you focus on the needs of the country and not use the pandemic as an opportunity to enact government rate-setting that would harm our patients and our healthcare system.”
No one yet knows what will end up being in the final version of the bill, but Modern Health reported, “Hospitals and provider groups oppose” the Alexander and Pallone proposal.