Congress should pass legislation to stop Americans from getting surprise medical bills, President Donald Trump said Thursday, adding momentum to a bipartisan issue that has aroused the ire of patients around the country.
More than half of Americans say they’ve received a surprise bill after getting care, according to one survey. Sometimes called balance bills, they arrive when a doctor, lab-testing service or hospital charges more than a health insurer is willing to pay. For patients, it can mean adding unexpected financial hassle to an already distressing medical problem.
“No one in America should be bankrupted unexpectedly by health care costs that are absolutely out of control,” Trump said at the White House while standing alongside lawmakers, doctors and patients who have received unexpected medical bills. “No family should be blindsided by outrageous medical bills.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told Trump during the news conference that he expects to send the president a bill in July.
Among the principles the White House supports: Patients shouldn’t receive separate bills for out-of-network charges they didn’t agree to; emergency care shouldn’t result in surprise bills from out-of-network providers, and patients should get an up-front estimate of costs before they get scheduled care.
Trump said the administration is working on a wider health care transparency effort it will talk about in coming weeks.
The Trump administration wants Congress to work out the details on the surprise billing effort and Trump didn’t specifically endorse any existing legislation. A bipartisan group of senators, including Alexander, Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, and Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire Democrat, has been working on the issue.