Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Applauds Deal to End Surprise Medical Billing

Dec 16, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today applauded a bipartisan agreement reached by congressional leaders on legislation to protect patients from receiving surprise medical bills. He called for the measure to be included in an end-of-the-year spending package.

Every year millions of Americans are socked with exorbitant bills for services they discover their insurance doesn’t cover. This is an all-too-common practice known as surprise medical billing, often stemming from emergency room visits. 

The bill would prohibit out-of-network providers from billing patients without receiving consent 72 hours prior to any appointments or procedures.

“No patient should ever walk out of a hospital and get blindsided by medical bills they never authorized,” Buchanan said. 

The bill also sets up a process for doctors and hospitals to go to arbitration to resolve billing disputes, removing patients from the billing process.

A study conducted earlier this year found that more than 20 percent of patients had received a surprise medical bill averaging $2,000 each.

The newly-announced No Surprises Act would ensure for the first time that patients receive a true and honest cost estimate in advance of any scheduled procedures, strengthen transparency requirements for emergency room procedures and reduce patients’ health care costs. 

Specifically, the legislation will protect patients from surprise bills by ensuring they are only responsible for their health insurance plan’s in-network costs. This includes preventing patients from being hit with a surprise bill for care from an out-of-network doctor at an in-network hospital, another common cause of surprise medical bills.

The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 18 percent of emergency room visits and 16 percent of in-network hospital stays resulted in a surprise bill.

The No Surprises Act is similar to the Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act which Buchanan co-sponsored and supported when it passed the House Ways and Means Committee in February of this year.

“This bipartisan proposal should be included in any must-pass government funding bill by the end of the year,” Buchanan said. “Patients and their families need to be protected from these unauthorized and unanticipated costs.”

Earlier this Congress, Buchanan’s bill to provide greater transparency in drug pricing passed the Ways and Means Committee and awaits action before the full House. The Reporting Accurate Drug Prices Act would require all drug manufactures to submit information to the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) on the average sales price of drugs administered under Medicare Part B.

In 2016, the president signed into law Buchanan’s proposal to preserve Medicare Advantage plans.