July 2, 2020 / by Robert King
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has taken center stage in Congress, a collection of business and health groups are imploring lawmakers to not forget about another priority: surprise medical bills.
Before the pandemic, the fight over surprise billing was the biggest healthcare issue before Congress. Progress has stalled amid an intense lobbying war between providers and payers over how to pay providers for out-of-network charges.
Now, a collection of unions, business groups and policy institutes wrote to congressional leaders Wednesday asking for a provision on surprise medical bills to be included in the next coronavirus stimulus package.
“We urge you to end surprise medical billing for all patients through the implementation of fair, market-based payments for out-of-network charges,” the letter said.
The American Benefits Council, the AFL-CIO, the Business Group on Health and the American Health Policy Institute were among the groups that signed on to the letter. But the letter’s idea to handle out-of-network charges is sure to renew disputes among providers and payers.
The letter calls for Congress to align out-of-network charges to “local, privately negotiated amounts.”