After lawmakers declined to include surprise billing in a March stimulus bill along with a set of expiring Medicare and Medicaid extenders, it appeared the issue would remain dormant until November, when the extenders need to be reauthorized. However, the Trump administration this week pushed Congress to include an outright ban on surprise medical bills in the next COVID stimulus package as a workaround of stipulating who pays for services provided by out-of-network doctors. There is no legislative text yet available for the proposal. For more than a year, lawmakers have debated legislation to end surprise billing, Republican and Democratic members of the Senate health and House Energy & Commerce committees proposed an insurer-backed bill to set benchmark pay rates for out-of-network services. The House Ways & Means committee is pushing a doctor-backed approach based on arbitration. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(CA-12) included a provision banning surprise billing in the House’s most recent stimulus package, the HEROES Act, but Senate leadership has yet to take up the bill. The House-passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act would make the $100 billion allocated to providers contingent on not surprise billing patients.
NASS continues to engage legislators on the issue, and remains committed to finding an equitable and patient friendly solution to surprise billing.