Surprise medical bills — where a patient thinks he or she has medical coverage only to find out that a doctor was out of his or her healthcare network after the fact — has become a hot-button topic on the presidential campaign trail, in state governments across the country, and now on Capitol Hill, where the House Ways & Means Committee has released a new bill that is being labeled as “provider-friendly.”
The stories behind some surprise bills, which usually occur in an emergency situation when an individual is incapable of making sure that all of the doctors he or she is likely to come into contact with are part of his or her insurance network, can be very sad and shocking. Individuals have received massive bills for treatment they thought was going to be covered, and in many cases, those bills are assigned to collection agencies, which get tangled up in the mess.
In trying to find a balanced solution, the new bill would give providers or individuals a 30-day window to share information and try to reach a resolution on their own. If that does not occur, then either side would be able to initiate a mediation session with a third-party.
Hospital groups have voiced their support of the new bill, which was introduced by Rep. Richard Neal, [D-Mass.], the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, and Kevin Brady, [R-Texas], the committee’s ranking member.
We create a more balanced negotiation process to encourage all parties to resolve their reimbursement differences before using the streamlined and fair dispute resolution process,” the pair said in a statement.