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Coalition Urges Transparency To Address Surprise Medical Billing


By: Gracie-Marie Turner


Surprise medical bills and drug costs are dominating the health care agenda on Capitol Hill, but it is a huge understatement to say there is a lack of consensus on solutions.

We are working with our allies in the health freedom community to provide a path forward on both.


On prescription drugs, Galen Senior Fellow Doug Badger has offered recommendations on “How Congress Can Make Real Progress on Drug Prices.” We’ve written and will continue to write about the importance of proposals that show real savings to consumers and protect the innovation that is producing dramatic cures and treatments.


On surprise medical bills, Congress is gridlocked between insurance companies that want the government to force non-network doctors to accept network rates, and doctors who want the government to appoint arbitrators to decide how much insurers should pay non-network doctors.


Whichever path they take will anger big players, and either approach invites further government intervention in the private practice of medicine.


A number of us came together to send a letter this week to congressional leaders offering a way to break the logjam, organized around ideas offered by Doug and senior fellow Brian Blase.


We argue that action is needed; it’s unfair to patients who play by the rules, go to their insurer’s in-network facility for care, and months later receive a bill from an out-of-network provider, sometimes costing them thousands of dollars in unexpected medical bills.


Here’s what we propose:


“To break the logjam, Congress should pursue a third way, one that would eliminate surprise bills by giving patients honest information before they receive care.


“Congress should require truth in advertising so timely pricing information is available in advance to consumers.  It should impose penalties on insurers who represent facilities as in-network and facilities that represent themselves as being in-network, if those facilities permit physicians to balance bill for services.


“Congress also should enforce price transparency to protect consumers from misleading information and ban balance billing for emergency services provided at non-network facilities.

“While the temptation to solve a political hotbed issue like surprise medical billing through federal overreach is strong, we encourage you to work toward solutions that increase the power of patients, not the federal government.”




And here are the signatories:

  • Joseph R. Antos – American Enterprise Institute

  • Saulius Anuzis – 60 Plus Association

  • Brandon Arnold – National Taxpayers Union

  • Doug Badger – Galen Institute & The Heritage Foundation

  • Christian N. Braunlich – Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

  • Louis Brown Jr., J.D. – Christ Medicus Foundation 

  • Jordan Buzza – Christ Medicus Foundation 

  • Tim Chapman – Heritage Action for America 

  • Mike Chupp MD, FACS, FCS (ECSA) – Christian Medical Association

  • Ryan Ellis – Center for a Free Economy

  • Robert Fellner – Nevada Policy Research Institute

  • Marie Fishpaw – The Heritage Foundation

  • Edmund F. Haislmaier – The Heritage Foundation

  • Rea Hederman – The Buckeye Institute 

  • Jonathan Imbody – Freedom2Care

  • Phil Kerpen – American Commitment 

  • Bethany L. Marcum – Alaska Policy Forum 

  • James L. Martin – 60 Plus Association 

  • Tom Miller – American Enterprise Institute 

  • Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D. – The Heritage Foundation

  • C. Preston Noell III – Tradition, Family, Property, Inc. 

  • Nina Owcharenko Schaefer – The Heritage Foundation 

  • Michael Parker, MD – Catholic Medical Association 

  • Sally Pipes – Pacific Research Institute 

  • Richard E. Ralston – Americans for Free Choice in Medicine

  • The Honorable Rick Santorum – Patriot Voices 

  • Thomas Schatz – Council for Citizens Against Government Waste 

  • Jennifer Schubert-Akin – Steamboat Institute 

  • Roger Stark – Washington Policy Center

  • Jameson Taylor – Mississippi Center for Public Policy 

  • Grace-Marie Turner – Galen Institute

  • Steven White, MD – Catholic Medical Association 

  • Elizabeth Wright – Council for Citizens Against Government Waste 

Affiliations listed for identification purposes only.


Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute.

Read more here.

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