Earlier this week, the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) joined the American Medical Association and a broad coalition of state and national medical societies in urging Congressional leaders to refrain from including provisions to address the issue of “surprise” medical bills in the forthcoming COVID-19 relief package.
The physician community remains committed to establishing a fair and equitable solution to resolve this critical issue for patients and providers. However, the COVID-19 public health crisis continues to generate unprecedented stress on physician practices and the healthcare delivery system overall. As a result, now is not the time to advance divisive surprise billing legislation. In a letter to Congressional leaders, the physician community reiterated key pillars of a legislative solution which will ensure patients’ continued access to care, including:
- Protecting patients;
- Keeping patients out of the middle;
- Ensuring reasonable provider payment rates; and
- Establishing a fair, accessible and equitable independent dispute resolution process which stipulates equal weight for various payment reference points.
Inclusion of these policy provisions as the foundation for a federal solution for “surprise” medical billing will ensure a balanced approach to mitigate this critical issue while also maintaining patients’ access to care. The ACR believes the complexity and multifaceted nature of this issue warrants due consideration from Congress, and a final proposal to address unanticipated medical bills should be considered separately from any forthcoming COVID-19 relief legislation.