Late-last week, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Reps. Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced a “compromise” on the surprise medical billing issue that occupies Washington’s current efforts to “fix” healthcare.
After a triumphant, though brief, celebration that an agreement had been reached, it became clear that this compromise was no such thing. It was just a repackaging of their rate-setting legislation that would allow the federal government to determine how much doctors are able to get paid … and how little insurance companies have to reimburse them.
I wrote about this measure and a similar attempt to sneak it into “must-pass” legislation a few weeks ago.
The “compromise” has been panned by conservatives.
Timothy Lee of the Center for Individual Freedom writes the “proposal amounts to a carbon copy of California’s attempt to address this problem – with dismal results.”
FreedomWorks tweets “it hurts patients and puts us on a path toward #MedicareForAll.”
Citizens Against Government Waste called it “disastrous.”
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance says it’s “just more government meddling in healthcare.”
Physician groups oppose the measure, as well. The American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Greater New York Hospital Association, the American College of Surgeons, and the Federation of American Hospitals among many others have come out in opposition to it.
Why are some in Congress insistent on pushing this rate-setting idea in the face of such opposition? It should be noted that Big Insurance spent a shocking $117 million on lobbying in 2019. And they stand to gain a great deal under this so-called “compromise.”
Overnight a separate, bipartisan compromise hit the scene, but no language is available yet so we will have to stay tuned.
Congress should not rush to solve the very real problem of surprise medical billing with any old compromise. Instead, it should deliberately work out a law that is fair to all parties: patients, providers, insurance companies and patients above all.