Contact Congress about Dangers of Proposed “Fix” for Surprise Bills

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Please take time during the month of August to speak out against bills that claim to address surprise medical bills but in reality hand control to insurers and reduce patient access to independent physicians.

The good news is that most Americans already see through the smokescreen. As a recent survey reports: “eight in 10 Americans (81 percent) believe the responsibility for the costs associated with surprise billing lies with health insurance companies rather than hospitals and doctors.” Not to mention that insurance-company controlled “unsurprise bills” may be a significantly bigger problem than surprise bills, as disintermediator Dave Chase explains.

Both Houses of Congress have introduced several bills addressing so-called “surprise medical bills that are on track for receiving votes in their respective chambers. The furthest along (and arguably the worst) are H.R. 3630 and S. 1895. The Senate version (S. 1895), the so-called Lower Health Care Costs Act, not only imposes price controls, and new penalties for physicians, but also would create a “massive federal database of private patient information,” warns the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom.

We agree that insurers should pay for bills submitted by out-of-network physicians and other health care professionals. Patients should not be penalized because the insurance plan has increasingly narrow networks and contracts that many professionals would not sign. Nor should health professionals who have chosen not to join an insurance network be forced to abide by the network payment rules.

We are working hard to defeat unconstitutional bills that penalize physicians and support solutions that strike a balance of fairness to the patients who in good faith believed their bill would be covered and physicians who rendered services — in many cases quite specialized — and deserve to be paid.

As former Freedom Works Vice President Dean Clancy puts it: “Any legislation to end surprise bills should ideally reflect free-market principles:” They must maintain a level playing field between insurers and physicians, respect freedom of contract, and honor the states’ primary role as insurance regulators under our Constitution, he explains.

Some are urging Congress to use the existing New York “surprise bills” law as a model; however, AAPS does not support government intervention in solving this problem created by insurers. While the NY law does include at least some protections for patients and physicians seeking to contract outside of insurance company control, and aims to hold insurers accountable for paying market-based fees, the NY surprise billing law is not a panacea. Like the other proposals, it is based on the flawed premise that harm caused by failed government policies can be fixed with even more top-down regulations controlling private businesses. In addition, certain bills in Congress claimed to be based on the NY law are different in ways that are less market-friendly than the actual NY legislation.

Here’s how you can help speak out :

Congress has headed out of DC for their August recess, so this is the perfect time to either visit or call your Senators’ local offices.

1) Call your U.S. Senators.

Tell them the following: “Vote NO on S. 1895. The proposal promises to end surprise bills but instead it will reduce access to care and limit insurance company responsibility for covering medical fees. Any legislation addressing surprise bills must protect patients’ options to work with physicians of their choice outside of insurance company control and not allow insurers to unilaterally set reimbursement.”

Phone numbers and addresses for local offices are available by clicking on your Senators’ names here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

There is also a handy list of district phone numbers at this link. A quick phone call to Congress is the quickest way to make a difference.

If you prefer to submit a message online, links to online contact forms are readily available at: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

2) Call your U.S. House Member.

Tell your House Member: “Vote NO on H.R. 3630. The proposal promises to end surprise bills but instead it will reduce access to care and limit insurance company responsibility for covering medical fees. Any legislation addressing surprise bills must protect patients’ options to work with physicians of their choice outside of insurance company control and not allow insurers to unilaterally set reimbursement.”

There is a handy list of district phone numbers at this link. You can also look up your Representative’s name, contact information, and link to online contact form at https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Thank you! Your voice makes a difference.