Exclusive–Mike Braun: Healthcare Industry Should Have Fixed ‘Dumb’ ‘Surprise Medical Bills’

U.S. Senator Mike Braun speaks at the hearing on Type 1 Diabetes at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on July 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for JDRF)
Jemal Countess/Getty Images for JDRF

Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview Tuesday that the healthcare industry should have fixed surprise medical bills on their own. Braun said, “Nobody likes surprise medical bills.”

Braun, one of the Senate’s leading experts on health care, spoke with Breitbart News regarding Democrat healthcare proposals, surprise medical bills, and how Republicans can lead on health care. Braun first called former Vice President Joe Biden’s healthcare proposal, a public option, “preposterous” and lamented on how it only builds off of the failed Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Surprise medical billing has become one of the leading issues for healthcare reform. Surprise medicals bills occur when a patient sees a doctor out of his health insurance network and that doctor bills the patient for the charges that the insurer will not pay. When the health insurance company and the health provider cannot resolve the dispute, they often foot the bill onto the patient.

One proposal to fix surprise medical billing has been included in the Senate Lower Health Care Costs Act, which was proposed by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA). The bill passed out of committee in late June. The bill would ban doctors from charging patients more than an in-network provider would and also would require health insurers to pay out-of-network providers the median in-network rate, also known as benchmarking, for the service for the geographic area.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) preferred the so-called baseball-style arbitration system, which would have the health insurer and the doctor, if they could not reach an agreement on reimbursement, present their preferred solutions to an independent arbiter. The arbitrator could then resolve the dispute between the healthcare provider and the health insurer.

Sen. Braun called surprise medical billing a “dumb” idea that the healthcare industry should have fixed by itself. The Indiana senator said that the solution to surprise medical bills should include both arbitration and benchmarking, and critics of benchmarking should realize that the healthcare industry– due to its concentrated status– does not operate in a free-market.

Braun said, “First of all, at least we’re talking about surprise medical bills. That should be another [idea] that’s dumb. Nobody likes surprise medical bills. That should have been something the industry and insurance companies fixed either through benchmarking and or arbitration.”

“I think it’s faulty logic to be against benchmarking because the system is not working on its own accord— I don’t like benchmarking or price setting, but when you got a system that’s operating more like a utility and not like free enterprise you can’t hold the same rules trying to fix it,” he continued. “I think that there ought to be a benchmark and an arbitration component. Rural providers that just can’t live with a benchmark, in this case, that would actually lower costs, but it may be too costly in terms of the rural provider because they got a classic because they can’t make a profit at that level. I think that there needs to be an arbitration option on benchmarking, but we need to take them on with surprise medical billing.”

Braun said that Republicans need to “pushback” onto the healthcare industry to fix itself, and “I tell them every time to fix yourselves. If you don’t and people can see it to where they get— surprise medical billing takes the consumer out of it, benchmark and arbitration out of it. Real results. Prices coming down, transparency on pharmaceuticals. We’re going to throw it to the Biden campaign and some of the crazies that like Medicare for All. Blame it on the industry if it happens.”

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

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