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New proposal could impact hospital billing practices

The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently released a proposal that targets “unexpected charges” to patients for care received at hospitals. The lawmakers behind the bill state they are attempting to remove the issue of surprise billing for patients in both emergency and non-emergency situations.

Here is a basic breakdown:

  • Emergency situations. The bill would remove surprise billing when a patient requires emergency care at a facility that is not part of their network. The proposal would prohibit health insurance companies from sending the patient a larger bill to cover the cost of emergency care received at out-of-network hospitals.
  • Non-emergency situations. In these cases, the proposal aims to remove surprise billing that occurs when a patient receives care at a covered facility from an uncovered medical practitioner.

Will the proposal move forward? It is important to note that the bill, as currently proposed, has bipartisan support. The bill was released jointly by both Representative Frank Pallone, a democrat from New Jersey and the chair of the committee, and Representative Greg Walden, a republican from Oregon and highest sitting republican on the committee.

Although it has support from both parties, the lawmakers behind the bill point out it is just the beginning. They stated they expect the proposal to begin a discussion and result in a bipartisan solution to protect patients from surprise bills.

What can medical professionals learn from this discussion? The Senate has also released a proposal with a similar purpose. As a result, billing practices will likely change in the near future.

The proposals are federal, meaning they would apply to billing practices throughout the country.