Exclusive–Greg Walden: Private-Equity ‘Scare Tactics’ Will Not Stop ‘Surprise Medical Bill’ Reform

A hospital waiting room. Photo: Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images
Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images

BALTIMORE, Maryland–House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR) told  Breitbart News in an exclusive interview Friday during the House Republican retreat that private-equity firms’ “scare tactics” will not stop Congress from reforming surprise medical bills.

Rep. Walden, one of the leading lawmakers in healthcare reform, spoke with Breitbart News regarding his and Congress’s efforts to curb surprise medical bills despite private equity firms’ push to stop surprise medical bill reform.

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.

The House and Senate have appeared close to floor votes in each chamber on legislation that would curb surprise medical billing. President Donald Trump has also pledged his support to curb surprise medical bills in May.

A Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll released Thursday found that Americans overwhelmingly want Congress to solve surprise medical bills. The survey found that 78 percent want Congress to end surprise medical billing, and 56 percent of those polled said that banning surprise medical bills should be a top healthcare priority for Congress.

However, despite Americans’ strong support for surprise medical bill reform, reports have detailed that private-equity-backed companies that own physician practices and staff emergency rooms around the country have launched a $28 million-plus ad campaign opposing Congress’s efforts to curb surprise medical bills.

The ads often warn of “government rate-setting,” suggesting that potential reform could close hospitals and emergency rooms.

Ranking member Walden told Breitbart News that the American people support Congress’s efforts to rein in surprise medical bills despite the enormous amounts of money the private equity firms have launched to fight their effort. Walden said that they will not back down in this fight.

“It [the Kaiser poll] says that we’re very much with the American people and they want us to do what we’re doing. And we want to get it right, so we’re open to having a policy discussion, but if these private equity firms think that spending $27 million attacking us and scaring people is going to make us back off,they’re making a big mistake,” Rep. Walden said.

Congressman Walden continued, saying that President Donald Trump has led the GOP effort to reform surprise medical bills. He added that, in a show of solidarity, he did an interview with House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) right before his interview with Breitbart News.

Walden said, “You know the president has led on this and he started this whole effort. I was at the White House when he had abused consumers at his side and myself and others and he wants something done on this, I want something done. Frank Pallone and I just did a joint interview with MSNBC, when was the last time you saw that?”

Rep. Walden said that private-equity “scare tactics” will not help their cause in stopping Congress’s efforts to end surprise medical bills.

Congressman Walden said that Republicans have more work to do to reform health care because many “big entities” continue to engage in “bad behavior.”

“We have a good record of it [on health care] because there’s more to do to stop the bad behavior by big entities in this space because there’s so much money in this space. They aren’t looking out for patients like they used to,” Walden said.

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

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