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Wall Street Journal: White House Applauds Bipartisan Congressional Deal to Curb Surprise Medical Bills


12.10.19

Trump Administration Backs "Deal Among Congressional Members and the White House That Protects Patients"


WASHINGTON, DC – The White House is backing a deal reached by bicameral, bipartisan leaders to protect patients from surprise medical billing. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the Trump Administration “praised a congressional deal on legislation to protect consumers from surprise medical bills, raising the chances that the bipartisan bill could pass this year. ”

“This compromise reflects the input of doctors and hospitals and is the result of months of delicate work to reach a deal among congressional members and the White House that protects patients,” the White House said in a statement. “Americans should not be surprised with huge medical bills when they are most vulnerable. We are hopeful Congress will focus on this important issue and act this year and send legislation to the President to sign into law.”

WATCH AGAIN Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) spoke at the White House recently and told President Trump that Congress is close to delivering a surprise billing fix to the president’s desk.

BOTTOM LINE: President Trump is ready to sign legislation into law to protect patients from surprise medical bills. The White House backs the deal reached by bipartisan House and Senate leaders. This legislation is the answer to the call for action from the American people. We need to act now.

What They Are Saying:

The Wall Street Journal: White House Applauds Bipartisan Congressional Deal to Curb Surprise Medical Bills

The White House on Monday praised a congressional deal on legislation to protect consumers from surprise medical bills, raising the chances that the bipartisan bill could pass this year.

The agreement from Democratic and Republican House and Senate health leaders ends a long stalemate over how to curb high hospital bills from out-of-network doctors and health providers. It would still need the backing of congressional leadership.

The deal would end the surprise bills and include a new system where independent arbitration would settle billing disputes. Hospitals and doctors have been concerned legislation would lower their reimbursements.

“Now, we need to continue to work together to quickly send this legislation to President Trump’s desk,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R., Ore.).

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Associated Press: White House backs emerging deal on consumer health costs

The White House endorsed an emerging bipartisan agreement Monday on legislation aimed at curbing rising health care costs, including taking steps to limit “surprise” medical bills that can plague patients treated in emergency rooms.

House and Senate participants said the measure would establish a system of arbitration aimed at resolving disputes over surprise bills, which can occur when patients are unwittingly treated by providers from outside their insurance networks.

In a written statement, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the measure represents “months of delicate work” and expressed hope that Congress would approve it this year. Steadily growing medical costs have been a major problem that have angered voters for years, and lawmakers would love to be able to assert they’ve addressed it as next November’s presidential and congressional elections approach.

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Bloomberg: Surprise Medical-Bill Legislation Gets Boost in Bipartisan Deal

Doctors would be able to take out-of-network charges to arbitration more easily under an agreement reached between House and Senate legislators to stop patients from receiving unexpectedly high medical bills.

The agreement would lower the threshold for taking disputed bills to arbitration to $750 instead of the $1,250 level approved in July by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Legislation approved in June by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions doesn’t include arbitration.

The deal struck by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, and House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders Frank Pallone of New Jersey, a Democrat, and Greg Walden of Oregon, a Republican, finds a middle ground between the two.

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New York Times: Ban on Surprise Medical Bills May Pass After All

Passage of the bill is still not guaranteed, but the bipartisan agreement substantially increases the likelihood that the legislation will move this year, most likely as part of a large government funding package expected to pass before a Dec. 20 deadline. The Congressional Budget Office has said that the approach in the deal will save the government money, making it a helpful piece to help offset other priorities.

The deal struck by the two committees shares key features with a bill the Energy and Commerce Committee passed this summer. Doctors who provide care that is out-of-network for a patient’s insurance will automatically be paid the median price of in-network doctors in the area. For certain large claims, doctors will be allowed to appeal to an outside arbitrator for reconsideration.

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