Groups Continue to Voice Support for Senate Health Committee Legislation to Reduce Health Care Costs

Posted on June 25, 2019

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2019 — After Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019, policy experts and advocacy organizations across the spectrum voiced their support of the bipartisan legislation to deliver better health care at lower cost.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners: “We are writing to express our appreciation for your efforts to call attention to and attempt to address the underlying cost drivers of health care. Specifically, we wish to express our strong support for one particular measure of the Lower Health Care Costs Act—prohibiting surprise bills from air ambulance providers. We are encouraged that the introduced version of the bill includes protections for consumers from balance billing by air ambulance providers and we urge the committee to maintain these protections as the bill moves forward. …By including protections against surprise billing for air ambulance services in the bill you have demonstrated your commitment to preventing loopholes that would allow some providers to continue to surprise bill. We appreciate this commitment and will work with the members of the HELP Committee and other members of Congress in support of keeping this key protection part of all surprise bill legislation.”

National Retail Federation: “Retailers welcome the latest proposal from the Senate HELP committee, which includes several commonsense reforms to protect patients and promote lower heath care costs. We are encouraged by the effort to put an end to surprise medical billing, a loophole that puts families at risk for exorbitant and unexpected charges. Establishing a benchmark approach for out-of-network providers, clarifying that all providers in an in-network facility must accept in-network rates, and addressing air ambulance fees are all positive steps that should be preserved through the committee markup process and supported by members of both parties.”

HR Policy Association: “We applaud your decision to address surprise bills with a fair market-based benchmark rate based on the median negotiated in-network reimbursement rate paid by the health plan to the same or similar providers in the geographic market. … The provisions addressing surprise bills related to air ambulance services are also appreciated.”

Council for Affordable Health Coverage: "The Lower Health Care Costs Act could be a gamechanger for American patients and taxpayers. With this bill, Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray are taking action to confront uncompetitive hospital markets, improve prescription drug affordability, and lift the threat of surprise medical bills. We are grateful that the sponsors listened to the concerns of CAHC and others by adopting a commonsense approach to resolving surprise billing issues, rather than resorting to shadowy, unaccountable binding arbitration policies that would add a new layer of bureaucracy to patients' healthcare experience and threaten to raise overall health costs."

The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers: “On behalf of The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (“The Council”), I write to express our members’ strong support for the Lower Health Care Costs Act.  This bipartisan legislation, we believe, tackles some of the biggest obstacles to bringing costs down in the health care system, including surprise medical bills and lack of transparency throughout the industry.  We urge the Committee and the Senate to approve this important legislation as soon as possible.”