Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA) and Congressman Phil Roe, MD (R-TN) recently teamed up to introduce H.R. 3502, the Protecting People from Surprise Medical Bills Act. This legislation, modeled after the New York state surprise billing law, outlines a process for resolving surprise medical bills that takes the patient out of the middle and implements an independent dispute resolution (IDR) system for providers and insurers to resolve payment differences in a fair, evidence-based and independent manner.
Thus far, Drs. Ruiz and Roe were joined by 39 of their House colleagues in introducing this bill, including fellow physician caucus members: Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Ami Bera (D-CA), Andy Harris (R-MD), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), John Joyce (R-PA), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Neal Dunn (R-FL).
Other cosponsors of note include former Secretary of Health and Human Services Congresswoman Donna Shalala (D-FL) and Congressman Joseph Morelle (D-NY), one of the original authors of the surprise billing legislation in New York State. The bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce committee, the House Ways and Means committee, the House Education and Labor committee and the House Oversight and Reform committee. Multiple members of these committees have also joined Drs. Ruiz and Roe in co-sponsoring H.R. 3502.
The ACR is hopeful that a strong show of support for H.R. 3502 will enable Drs. Ruiz and Roe to have persuasive discussions with the Energy and Commerce committee and the Education and Labor committee regarding the importance of including IDR in any forthcoming legislative package that addresses surprise billing. To that end, the ACR has sent a call to action to its members asking them to contact their representative in support of H.R. 3502.
On the Senate side, last week the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted to advance S. 1895, the Lower Health Care Costs Act, which includes language that addresses surprise billing by setting a benchmark payment that out-of-network providers must accept. The legislation does not currently include any IDR provisions. However, Senate HELP committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has publicly stated that he is willing to work with Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and others to incorporate components of S.1531, the STOP Act, such as IDR as the Lower Health Care Costs Act moves to the Senate floor.
The ACR will continue to follow this rapidly developing issue and keep members apprised.