“Surprise Billing” Health Legislation Would Insert Federal Bureaucrats Into Health Decisions

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee have reached a deal on health care legislation that includes a proposal to address payment disputes over surprise medical bills. Unfortunately, the legislation continues to rely on a benchmark payment for out-of-network providers, an unacceptable form of rate-setting that will only limit access to care and lead to a system of government-picked winners and losers.

Though more details of the legislative negotiations are forthcoming, press reports indicate the legislation will add an arbitration component to the benchmark system that already passed out of each committee earlier this year. The National Taxpayers Union believes it is critically important to protect patients from surprise bills, but believes there are alternative fixes that address this problem while not relying on government-heavy schemes to solve payment disputes.

“Taxpayers should be wary of this ‘solution’ because government rate-setting means that federal bureaucrats write the rules,” said Brandon Arnold, Executive Vice President of NTU. “Lawmakers should avoid jamming this proposal onto year-end legislation, and return in 2020 with a balanced, measured approach that considers market-based alternatives to the surprise billing issue.”

NTU recently sent a letter to all members of Congress ahead of their final legislative session of 2019, urging them to avoid hitching last-minute policy riders onto a larger spending bill, and instead to pass a clean funding bill that keeps government open into the 2020 calendar year.

To speak more with NTU Executive Vice President Brandon Arnold about why taxpayers should be concerned with this deal, contact NTU Vice President of Communications Kevin Glass at 703-299-8670 or at kglass@ntu.org.