WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — One of the few healthcare issues Democrats, Republicans and the President agree on is the need for no more surprise medical bills.
Surprise billing has been a unique issue on Capitol Hill because it doesn’t split lawmakers by party but by industry group.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, wants to make sure Congress and the White House are still working to stop surprise medical billing.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the Trump administration is on board. “This is a very high priority for the president,” he said.
Republicans and Democrats both want to take patients off the hook for the unexpected and often pricey charges from medical providers outside of their insurance network.
“We want to get a bipartisan, bicameral solution passed,” Azar said.
But Congress still can’t decide who who should pick up the tab — insurers or providers.
Both industries are fighting hard for their preferred payment dispute solution.
“Arbitration is the best one,” said Tom Nickels, the Executive Vice President with the American Hospital Association
But Benedic Ippolito, a research fellow with the American Enterprise Institute Research Fellow, said “Adopting an in-network guarantee is the best option.”
That disagreement derailed the effort to end surprise medical billing last year. But now Congress is committed to getting a bill to President Trump’s desk before summer.
In fact, Alexander said, “That could all be done by May.”
And if Alexander gets his way the legislation would also lower prescription drug costs and fully fund community health centers for the next five years.