House Ways and Means (W&M) Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) is proposing a new way to move forward on crafting rules to protect patients from surprise medical bills. In a letter to fellow W&M Democrats last week, Chairman Neal outlined a process that calls for negotiated rulemaking by federal agencies—rather than legislators—to set out-of-network payment rates and to determine when to use arbitration. His proposal details a compromise to address provider demands for an arbitration process instead of a benchmark out-of-network rate.
The negotiated rulemaking process would require three agencies—the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury—to form a committee to identify standards for rates for surprise bills, according to the letter. The committee would decide whether to add a dispute resolution and to define the parameters of that resolution process. The result would go through a public comment period.
Momentum on addressing surprise bills has stalled since Congress returned from its August recess. Both the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee have advanced bills to ban surprise medical bills, but neither has gone to its respective chamber’s floor.
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