May 22 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today filed the Medical Billing Fairness Act to discourage health care facilities from using out-of-network providers and saddling patients with unaffordable medical bills in nonemergency situations.
The bill builds on efforts by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), and others to address a frustrating problem for patients across the U.S. A study by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Missouri-Kansas City found that one in 10 new mothers received an out-of-network bill for childbirth expenses not covered by insurance. This problem most often occurs when a hospital uses contract medical providers such as anesthesiologists.
Sen. Kennedy’s bill requires hospitals to give patients the opportunity to opt for in-network care only when scheduling appointments, such as childbirth.
“The last thing on your mind when you’re welcoming a new baby into the world is whether everyone in the delivery room will be covered by your insurance. One mother got a $1,600 bill because the anesthesiologist on call the day she delivered wasn’t on the hospital’s staff. Now, he didn’t just wander into the delivery room. Hospitals save money by putting specialists on contract rather than on payroll. The savings to the hospital show up in the patient’s mailbox as an out-of-network expense not covered by insurance,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Patients don’t deserve to be hit with surprise medical bills, especially when they schedule a procedure in advance.”