A long-discussed surprise medical billing fix will be part of the congressional budget deal that includes $900 billion in new COVID-19 relief.
“This is terrific news,” said Kim Buckey, vice president of client services for DirectPath, a health care benefits and services firm.
“Previously, there was a patchwork of 31 state-based programs that had attempted to address this issue, with some states taking a more comprehensive approach than others,” Buckley explained.
“These programs only affected fully insured plans in that state and could not address air ambulances, a major source of surprise bills,” she said.
“The new federal legislation will apply a consistent approach to all plans, both self- and fully insured, and extend to those states who have not yet offered consumer protections against surprise bills.”
Though key congressional committees had agreed more than a week ago on a plan for protecting insured patients from large medical bills when they unwittingly receive out-of-network care, it had been unclear whether it would be part of must-pass government funding legislation, ”Politico” reported.
The final decision came down to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had been silent on the deal.
The White House already has endorsed the plan nearly two years after President Donald Trump first called on Congress to fix an issue that has drawn bipartisan concern.
But those efforts were nearly derailed by opposition from well-funded groups and congressional turf battles.