The Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on Wednesday titled “How to Reduce Health Care Costs: Understanding the Cost of Health Care in America,” which covered issues such as unexpected out-of-network bills, price transparency, and administrative burden. The hearing witnesses included Melinda Buntin, PhD (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine), Ashish Jha, MD, MPH (Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine), Niall Brennan, MPP (Health Care Cost Institute), and David Hyman, MD, JD (Georgetown University Law Center).
Senators used several examples of patients who received care at an in-network facility, but out-of-network bills from the physicians, including one anecdote presented by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) of an $1,800 bill from an out-of-network emergency physician. During Ranking Member Patty Murray’s (D-WA) Q&A with the witnesses, Dr. Jha acknowledged third-party contracting groups are more commonplace than they have been and this has led to an increase in out-of-network providers and balance billing, but he also discussed how reckless it is that some insurers are trying to retrospectively deny patients’ emergency care claims.
Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray have stated they intend to conduct several additional hearings on reducing health care costs over the coming months.
To view the hearing, click here.