Bipartisan bill to stop surprise medical bills released

Bill would ban balance billing, higher out-of-pocket costs for out-of-network emergency care

A bipartisan bill to stop surprise medical bills would ban balance billing and require heath insurers to charge their members the same out-of-pockets costs for out-of-network emergency care as they do for in-network care.

The legislation proposed by the top-ranking Democrat and Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee was summarized by Vox this week. Former Vox writer Sarah Kliff, now with the New York Times, has been written a crusading series of articles about surprise emergency department bills. 

The legislation would also require insurers to make a minimum payment to out-of-network providers who care for their members. According to the Vox  precis, the payment would be based on prices insurers pay to their nearby in-network providers.

Surprise bills for emergency care have garnered most of the attention, but this legislation would also curb out-of-network billing for scheduled care. For example, it would ban balance billing from the supporting cast of providers--anesthesiologists, radiologists, pathologists--over which the patients typically have little if any control.