Major Medical Societies to Support Texas Medical Association Federal Surprise Billing Lawsuit

Groups Work to Protect Patient Access to Care and Stop Insurer Profit Grab at Patient and Provider Expense

The American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Radiology® (ACR®) and American Society of Anesthesiologists support the new Texas Medical Association (TMA) suit filed Oct. 12, stating that the Surprise Billing Final Rule independent dispute resolution (IDR) process still fails to comply with No Surprises Act (NSA) statutory text. The new TMA suit is filed in the same Texas Federal Court that ruled in favor of the TMA thus vacating parts of the IDR process published in the Surprise Billing Interim Final Rule issued last September.  ACEP, ACR and ASA filed a joint amicus brief with the Texas court in support of TMA on October 19.

Additionally, ACEP, ACR, and ASA will dismiss their joint lawsuit in the U.S. Court for the Northern District of Illinois challenging the interim final IDR rule because that rule is no longer in effect. ACEP, ACR, and ASA will monitor the TMA suit and stand ready to challenge the final rule in the Northern District of Illinois if necessary.   

The final rule, issued in August, skews the IDR process to favor the insurer-calculated Qualifying Payment Amount (QPA) over other factors Congress specifically directed IDR arbitrators to consider equally with the QPA. Insurers are using the new law to raise profits by initiating reductions in contracted fee schedules and narrowing medical networks, which denies patients their choice of providers and can delay diagnosis and treatment of illness and injury.

  • In possible violation of the NSA, insurers are likely using lower primary care provider contract rates (for specialty services those practices never offered nor performed) in calculating QPA.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee and CIGNA of Tennessee are the first to cite the new law in demanding providers accept drastic cuts in payment for services provided or risk contract termination.

Many practices, reeling from COVID-19’s economic impact, cannot withstand this insurer multi-edged profit grab and may be dropped from networks. These insurer restrictions impact all care (not just out-of-network care), including cancer screenings, which plummeted during the pandemic and may yet lead to more cancer deaths. 

There is no evidence that insurers use profit margin increases, obtained at patient and provider expense, to lower beneficiary costs. In fact: 

The Texas case again solely impacts the IDR process to determine provider reimbursement for out-of-network care. The suit does not impact No Surprises Act patient protections, which ACEP, ACR and ASA continue to fully support, nor raise patient out-of-pocket costs.

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The American College of Radiology (ACR), founded in 1924, is a professional medical society dedicated to serving patients and society by empowering radiology professionals to advance the practice, science and professions of radiological care.

Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 55,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves. For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/madeforthismoment. Like ASA on Facebook and follow ASALifeline on Twitter.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the national medical society representing emergency medicine. Through continuing education, research, public education, and advocacy, ACEP advances emergency care on behalf of its 40,000 emergency physician members, and the more than 150 million people they treat on an annual basis. For more information, visit www.acep.org and www.emergencyphysicians.org

Contact: Steve Arnoff | sarnoff@acep.org | Twitter @EmergencyDocs

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