Bipartisan Letter Circulating on Surprise Billing

December 02, 2019 5:50 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

ACEP is requesting additional action on Out of Network Billing/Surprise Billing. Several Congressional champions (Reps Morelle, Shala, Roe, and Taylor) are circulating a bipartisan letter in the House to leadership to collect Congressional signatures. Anything members can do to encourage more Congressional offices to sign on would be a big help. The turn-around time is pretty tight--signatures are due Dec 5. Please see the letter below, and if you have good relationships with any House offices, please encourage them to sign on.

To sign on, please contact:

Maria Oparil, Legislative Assistant
Office of Congressman Joseph D. Morelle (NY-25)
1317 Longworth House Office Building
202-225-3615 | maria.oparil@mail.house.gov

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader
H-204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515              

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy,

Thank you for your leadership on addressing the unfortunate practice of "surprise billing," which leaves patients with unexpected charges after they receive emergency or out-of-network medical care. Many of our own constituents have been left helpless in disputes between health care providers and insurance plans, saddled with untenable out-of-pocket costs after receiving potentially life-saving care.

As you know, ongoing bipartisan, bicameral negotiations continue with the goal of addressing this critical issue in a larger legislative package before the end of this year. We are supportive of these efforts, and unequivocally believe Congress should complete legislation that will hold patients harmless in unplanned out of network care. However, we also believe it is critical that this legislation includes a balanced independent dispute resolution system between providers and insurers. We are committed to ensuring that our local doctors, hospitals, and communities are not disproportionately impacted by an approach that fails to include true measures of accountability.  

Patients, doctors, and hospitals are relying on us to address this issue without harming the quality of our health care system or hurting our local economies. A benchmarked, one-size-fits-all, approach would hinder network adequacy and access to care, particularly in rural and underserved areas. In contrast, instituting a neutral, independent review process after direct negotiations between the parties can lower health care costs without massive disruptions to the health care market. 

An accessible and meaningful appeals process would also ensure that the playing field is not tilted toward health insurance companies at the expense of our local hospitals or doctors, especially those who are already in-network, while still ensuring that the patient is out of the middle and not financially responsible for a surprise medical bill.

We look forward to working with you to end the practice of surprise billing through balanced legislation. This is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that no American family is faced with an unaffordable bill for unexpected out-of-network care ever again, without threatening the quality of care they receive from physicians and hospitals across the nation or increasing the cost of care for anyone.

Thank you again for your work to address this pressing issue-we are confident we can achieve a fair result to protect patients, providers, and insurers.

Sincerely,

Joseph D. Morelle
Donna Shalala
Phil Roe
Van Taylor