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Protect Our Care Applauds Senate Democrats’ Efforts to Eliminate Extreme and Surprise Medical Bills

By October 3, 2018No Comments

New Legislation Introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan Would Ease Out-of-Pocket Costs

Washington, DC – Today, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation to combat high out-of-pocket health care costs for uninsured patients and for patients in the individual health insurance market. U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) also announced that she will introduce companion legislation to help eliminate a related problem: surprise medical bills, where patients receive massive, unexpected medical bills, often for receiving care that they didn’t realize was considered out-of-network.

Said Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, in response to the legislation:

“We hear about it all the time – egregious surprise medical bills and astronomical out-of-network charges that bankrupt families – and it’s unacceptable. Insurance companies and providers could fix this, but they won’t. Any lawmaker who says they are serious about reducing health care costs for Americans should get behind these commonsense bills.”

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

Shaheen’s Reducing Costs for Out-of-Network Services Act of 2018 would cap the amount that hospitals and physicians could charge uninsured patients and out-of-network patients who have individual market coverage. These charge caps would also improve the ability of individual market health insurers to reduce premiums by lowering costs for in-network hospital and physician services. This legislation provides patients in the individual insurance market with similar protections to safeguards that Medicare Advantage beneficiaries have already benefitted from for years.

Hassan’s No More Surprise Medical Bills Act of 2018 would help eliminate surprise medical bills for people with employer-sponsored health plans. The bill will protect patients with medical emergencies from surprise billing by prohibiting hospitals and providers from charging more than the in-network amount. The bill also protects patients in non-emergency situations from surprise bills by requiring hospitals and providers to notify patients if services will be out-of-network and get their consent. Without proper notification and consent, a provider can only charge a patient the in-network amount.

Shaheen’s legislation protects patients who are uninsured or in the individual health insurance market, while Hassan’s legislation protects patients with employer-sponsored health plans.