Surprise Billing is Back in the Spotlight. Since December, we have been waiting for the House Ways and Means Committee to release language for its surprise billing package. Last week House, Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) announced that the Committee is working on their proposal and has scheduled a markup of the bill for February 12. It is expected that the Ways and Means Committee is working to develop a budget neutral approach that relies on arbitration to resolve payment disputes between insurers and providers. This proposal is different from the combined House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee proposal that includes a benchmark rate with an option to go to arbitration for certain situations. The E&C and HELP surprise billing proposal also saves a significant amount of money, in contrast to the Ways and Means Committee’s expected budget neutral approach. With the healthcare extenders set to expire on May 22, the committees will have to come together to address policy differences in their surprise billing packages, while also trying to use it as a potential pay-for for the healthcare extenders.
The Senate And Healthcare. Last week, the Senate rejected a measure to consider calling new witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial. It is now expected that the Senate will hold the final vote on the articles impeachment on Wednesday. This means that the Senate will return to addressing policy issues such as healthcare. This activity is likely to pick up next week. Healthcare stakeholders should prepare for the Senate to begin talks on prescription drug reforms, surprise billing and addressing the healthcare extenders.
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