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E&C Begin Bipartisan Investigation into Private Equity Practices Surrounding Surprise Medical Billing


09.17.19

WASHINGTON, DC– As surprise medical billing continues to harm Americans, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) are looking into the sources of surprise medical billing. Pallone and Walden announced a bipartisan investigation into one of those potential sources – private equity firms.

In a joint interview with Pallone on MSNBC News, Walden said, “We have evidence where they buy the practice, take the physicians out of network and raise the rates by 96%. Guess who is paying that? It’s people like you and me and our constituents.”

Here’s what they are saying:

Axios Vitals: 5. 1 money thing

Doctor Patient Unity has spent $28 million so far on their surprise billing ad blitz, but all they have to show for it is … a congressional investigation.

The 2 physician staffing groups behind Doctor Patient Unity, TeamHealth and Envision Healthcare, are backed by private equity. Research has shown that these groups frequently send patients surprise medical bills while enjoying high in-network rates.

The Washington Post – The Health 202: Congress is probing secretive groups opposing medical billing reforms

Dark-money groups have been going after Congress for trying to free Americans from burdensome surprise medical bills. Now Congress is going after them.

In an investigation launched yesterday, leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are demanding answers from three private equity firms about their relationship with companies that staff doctor offices and emergency rooms around the country and are a source of unexpected bills that leave thousands of Americans in medical debt every year.

Washington Examiner – Daily on Healthcare: WALDEN AND PALLONE LAUNCH INVESTIGATION INTO PRIVATE EQUITY FIRMS AND SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLING

Democrat Frank Pallone and Republican Greg Walden, who lead the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, are investigating private equity firms for the roles they play in surprise medical billing, having found that physician staffing and emergency transportation companies they own are often the source of surprise bills. “Evidence indicates that these physician staffing firms charge significantly higher in-network rates than their counterparts, thereby driving reimbursement upwards as they enter into staffing arrangements with hospitals,” Pallone and Walden wrote Monday.

Inside Health Policy: E&C Launches Probe Into Private Equity Firms’ Role In Surprise Billing

House Energy & Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and ranking Republican Greg Walden (OR) launched an investigation into private equity firms’ role in surprise medical billing, starting with three firms that own physician staffing companies and emergency transport companies. The investigation was launched Monday (Sept. 16), soon after such firms were revealed as the driving force behind a series of dark money ads campaign lobbying against the House and Senate’s proposed surprise billing fixes.

The Hill: House panel investigating private equity firms’ role in surprise medical billing

Hospitals sometimes contract out the staffing of their emergency room or other departments to these physician staffing companies, who then can send massive bills to patients because the staffing company might not be in their insurance network even though the hospital as a whole is.

“We are concerned about the increasing role that private equity firms appear to be playing in physician staffing in our nation’s hospitals, and the potential impact these firms are having on our rising health care costs,” Pallone and Walden wrote in the letters to the private equity firms KKR, Blackstone Group, and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe.

Breitbart: Reps. Frank Pallone, Greg Walden Investigate Private Equities’ Role in Surprise Medical Bills

Pallone and Walden wrote:

We write to request information regarding [name of private equity firm] ownership, policies, and practices as it relates to third-party medical providers. We are particularly interested in your firm’s relationship with any physician staffing companies and emergency transportation companies. In recent years, the Committee has heard countless heart-wrenching stories from insured individuals who have received thousands of dollars in medical bills after inadvertently receiving care from out-of-network providers.

Pallone and Walden introduced the bipartisan No Surprises Act, which would protect patients from surprise medical billing. The legislation passed out of the committee unanimously. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has authored a popular surprise medical bill and Senate Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has pushed for the Lower Health Care Costs Act, which would also resolve the surprise medical billing problem.

POLITICO Pro – Afternoon Pulse: E&C LOOKS AT PRIVATE EQUITY AND ‘SURPRISE’ BILLING

The letters to KKR & Co. Inc., Blackstone Group and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe come after reports surfaced that private equity-backed firms are behind an almost $30 million effort designed to kill the leading congressional legislation that would make it harder for hospitals and doctors to bill patients large sums for out-of-network care. Pallone’s panel produced a version of surprise billing legislation this summer.

 

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