Lawmakers to vote on bill to stop surprise emergency room costs

Lawmakers to vote on bill to stop surprise emergency room costs

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A new study estimates one in six people who go to the emergency room or hospital is hit with a surprise bill.

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander says unexpected medical bills have become the No. 1 health care complaint he hears.

Alexander addressed his concerns on the Senate floor in April.

“The cost of health care in effect has become a tax on the budget of families, employers, federal government and state government,” Alexander said.

On Wednesday, Senate health committee members will vote on bipartisan legislation aimed at delivering better health care at a lower cost.

The legislation would require patients to pay only their in-network rates for out-of-network emergency care and for certain out-of-network services performed at in-network facilities.

“Direct primary care is the only model that’s able to offer affordable health care with complete price transparency,” Alexander said.

Last week, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its analysis of 2017 medical bills. They found that two-thirds of Americans say they have some level of worry about being able to afford unexpected medical bills.

More than a dozen states have enacted laws that address surprise billing in insurance plans, including Mississippi.

The bill’s author, Republican House Insurance Chairman Gary Chism, says the law comes with issues -- the bill left out who would enforce this new law.

Ending surprise medical bills is just one of three parts to the bill.

The legislation also aims to create more transparency in health care and increases prescription drug competition to lower drug costs.

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved.