WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has strong concerns that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s recently introduced “Lower Health Costs Act” would dramatically disrupt emergency care and significantly distort negotiations between insurers and physicians.
Vidor Friedman, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP, said:
“ACEP shares the Senate HELP Committee’s overarching goal to protect patients from surprise bills. However, emergency physicians strongly oppose the bill’s “benchmarking” approach and remain very concerned that as written the legislation strongly favors insurance companies while creating new barriers that would limit patient access to emergency care.
"This proposal fails to address in any way the root cause of surprise medical bills - narrow insurer networks. Instead, this proposal gives insurers a federally-supported incentive to lower their already opaque rates and further narrow provider networks—increasing the insurer advantage over physicians without any corresponding accountability or concern about what that could mean for patients.
"ACEP believes the 'STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act,' put forward by Senator Cassidy and the Bipartisan Price Transparency Working Group, remains the best starting point to take patients out of the middle of billing disputes and establish a fair, efficient process to resolve differences between insurers and providers. This independent dispute resolution is a proven and market-based process that ensures that all stakeholders come to the table to negotiate in good faith.
"While improvements to the STOP Surprise Medical Bills are still needed, we believe the framework offered by Senator Cassidy should serve as the foundation of the Senate’s ongoing efforts to protect patients from surprise medical bills, and we encourage the HELP Committee and the Senate to build upon this thoughtful bipartisan legislative proposal."