January 25, 2019
President Trump spoke out against so-called "surprise" medical bills at a White House meeting, instructing respective HHS and DOL Secretaries Alex Azar and Alex Acosta to investigate how to prevent these types of bills.
Patients often get bills from out-of-network providers that perform services at in-network hospitals and other facilities.
Bipartisan interest in Congress: Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) have legislation that is likely to be re-introduced on the subject, as well as Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chair of the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Who pays remains the issue. If patients are to be spared the cost of surprise bills, insurers and employers will have to pay the balance bill, unless out-of-network providers agree to accept in-network reimbursement rates.
Outlook: While surprise medical bills is viewed as a rare area of potential bipartisan action over the next two years, the devil remains in the details and it is unclear whether a compromise can be reached.