One-Fifth of Senate Co-Sponsors Bill Cassidy’s ‘Stop Surprise Medical Bills’ Act

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) speaks during a news conference on health care September 13, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Senators Graham, Cassidy, Heller and Johnson unveiled a proposed legislation to repeal and replace the Obamacare. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) announced Wednesday that he has gained over 21 co-sponsors on his legislation that would end surprise medical bills, in a rare showing of bipartisan action on health care.

Sen. Cassidy announced Wednesday that his legislation gained over 21 co-sponsors for his Stop Surprise Medical Bills Act, which amounts to over one-fifth of the U.S. co-sponsoring the legislation. Cassidy gained the support of these senators less than two weeks after the bill’s introduction.

“Patients should be the reason for the care, not an excuse for the bill,” said Sen. Cassidy in a press release Wednesday. “This is a significant showing of support behind our proposal, and it’s exciting to see more senators joining our effort to put patients first and end surprise medical billing.”

Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Kennedy (R-LA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Rob Portman (R-OH) have joined the Bipartisan Senate Working Group on surprise medical billing, cosponsoring the legislation.

“It’s no surprise our bill continues to gain momentum,” said Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), a member of the Bipartisan Senate Working Group on surprise medical billing. “Hoosier families are worried about financial strain created by unexpected medical bills, and our bipartisan legislation will help address this growing problem.”

“I am encouraged by the significant bipartisan momentum that continues to grow for our STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act, which will help end the absurd practice of surprise medical billing that’s hurting too many families in New Hampshire and across our state,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), a member of the Bipartisan Senate Working Group on surprise medical billing. “I will keep working across the aisle to move this legislation forward as quickly as possible.”

The bipartisan healthcare legislation arose as the result of nearly a year-long effort by Sens. Cassidy, Bennet, Young, and Carper, as well as legislation introduced by Sen. Hassan last year.

Sens. Cassidy and Hassan’s legislation comes after President Donald Trump held a bipartisan conference at the White House in May, calling on Congress to pass legislation on surprise medical bills by the end of the year.

“We’re determined to end surprise medical billing for American patients,” Trump said in May.

The bipartisan surprise billing legislation would address three areas in which surprise medical billing, also known as “balance billing,” would be prohibited, including:

  • Emergency services. The legislation would ensure that a patient only has to pay the in-network cost-sharing amount required by their health plan for emergency services, regardless of the patient getting treatment at an out-of-network facility or by an out-of-network provider.
  • Non-emergency services following an emergency service at an out-of-network facility.
  • Non-emergency services performed by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility.

The Stop Surprise Medical Bills Act also makes paying for healthcare easier, because the legislation removes patients from the process through which healthcare providers and health insurance companies resolve the disputed cost of the medical service.

One study from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute reviewed the implementation of a similar law to address surprise medical billing and found that state officials have seen a “dramatic” decline in consumer complaints since the law went into effect.

Sen. Cassidy told Breitbart News in an interview that they will take the patient out of the surprise medical billing dispute between providers and insurance companies out as a point of leverage to help Americans with their health care.

“We are going to take her [the patient] out as the point of leverage, and providers and insurance companies want to disagree they’ll have an alternative mechanism by which to resolve their disagreement as opposed to working through the patient herself,” Cassidy said.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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