Today, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) announced strong opposition to the surprise medical bill introduced Tuesday, July 9 and passed today by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, the "Pallone-Walden" bill, or H.R. 3630 the "No Surprises Act." ASA supports an immediate halt in the rush to further advance this legislation. Significant questions exist concerning the implications of this legislation on the nation's physicians and hospital.
As this legislation is reconsidered, ASA urges immediate consideration of alternative legislation known as "Ruiz-Roe," or H.R. 3502, the Protecting People from Surprise Medical Bills Act. This model protects patients and has worked effectively for physicians and insurance companies in states.
ASA is strongly opposed to the surprise medical bills provisions in the recently introduced H.R. 3630 which threatens to fundamentally disrupt health care delivery. Instead of putting the power in the hands of the insurance companies, Congress should protect patients from these bills with a more responsible solution like that offered by Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Phil Roe (R-TN). I urge Congress to take steps as discussed today that begin discussion about aligning H.R. 3630 with H.R. 3502 which creates an independent dispute resolution system to allow physicians and insurers to resolve payment disputes."
ASA President Linda J. Mason M.D., FASA
During the Subcommittee on Health mark-up yesterday, several lawmakers voiced support for the independent dispute resolution process as an alternative.
ASA vigorously opposes the unfair government rate setting level included in H.R.3630. Under the proposal introduced by Congressmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Greg Walden (R-OR), insurers are placed in full control of payments for physicians and other providers and as a result, physicians will have no recourse to challenge the insurer created payment levels. Insurance companies will have no incentive to create adequate networks of providers and, therefore, it is expected that patients receiving health care from out-of-network providers will only increase.
ASA strongly urges the House Energy and Commerce to amend H.R. 3630 by adopting principles included in H.R. 3502 and consistent with the successful model used in New York State law. It is a solution with robust patient protections that removes patients from billing disputes, so they are responsible for nothing more than their in-network copays and deductibles and creates a dispute resolution process to address physician and insurer disagreements. The New York model has been in place since 2015 and has reduced complaints related to surprise bills.
Surprise medical bills – also known as out of network payments - occur when a patient receives a bill for the difference between the out-of-network provider's fee and the amount covered by the patient's health insurance, after co-pays and deductible. ASA has been actively engaging policy makers to protect patients from unanticipated medical bills.