AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD, issued the following statement on the public announcement of forthcoming surprise billing legislation from the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP):
“The AAMC firmly supports protecting patients from surprise medical bills and has consistently supported Congress’ efforts to hold patients harmless. At the same time, we are committed to ensuring that patients have access to the critical services provided by teaching hospitals and academic physicians, and therefore continue to strongly oppose any proposal that includes benchmark rate setting. While we are encouraged that the committees’ press statement mentions arbitration as part of its legislative framework, we remind Congress that even paired with arbitration, a benchmark rate could decrease patient access to care by incentivizing the exclusion of teaching hospitals from coverage networks and increasing narrow networks. We continue to believe that arbitration, not rate setting, is the best solution to address billing disputes.
Given the importance of this issue for patients and the potential for unintended consequences, it is critical for Congress to receive input from all committees of jurisdiction and for all stakeholders to have ample time to review and provide feedback on the legislative text when it is released. The AAMC will continue working with lawmakers and other stakeholders to advance policies that protect patients from surprise medical bills and preserve patient access to the critical services of teaching hospitals and physicians.”