Senate committee unveils sweeping healthcare bill package

From Modern Healthcare:

On the most visible level, this package is the Senate vehicle for the much debated ban on surprise medical bills. However, this discussion draft doesn’t settle the contentious question of how Congress should implement the ban and instead posits three ideas that the committee still needs to decide upon.

The first option would require a hospital to guarantee patients that, for practical purposes, all its physicians are in-network. To make good on this guarantee, physicians could either contract with the hospital’s insurers or stay out of network but submit their charges through the hospital so the insurer gets only one bill and the hospital has to incorporate the doctor’s fee. Specialists and those that employ them have opposed this idea.

Under the second option, insurers, hospitals or physicians could choose arbitration to resolve disputed charges higher than $750, and the arbiter would have to look at median insurer-negotiated rates from the same geographical area as a guideline.

The third option is identical to the proposal the House Energy and Commerce Committee offered last week: An insurer would pay the surprise bill at the median contracted rate for that region to the hospital or doctor in question.

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