The Forces Fighting Congress’s Bill To End Surprise Billing Are Acting Like They’ve Already Won. They Likely Have.
WASHINGTON — One year ago members of Congress declared surprise medical billing an unjust market failure and vowed quick action to fix it.
Both political parties agreed. Who could defend the growing cases of massive bills for people who go to the emergency room and are unknowingly treated by out-of-network doctors? One 2019 study found that 4 out of 10 emergency room visits resulted in a surprise bill.
But that fix has yet to arrive, in part because of a massive ad blitz from private-equity companies that have bought up physician staffing firms and profit from surprise bills. Swing states and districts across the country were inundated with ads attacking Congress’s plan as an insurance industry scheme that would cause doctor shortages and hospital closures.
Two attempts to pass legislation fell apart after pitched, last-minute negotiations between and within parties. This month Congress has a third and final chance to pass surprise billing legislation by tacking it onto a must-pass coronavirus aid bill.
But that effort seems to be dying a slow death while the public is distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Multiple congressional aides told …continued .