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Senator Hassan Meets with Granite Staters to Discuss Surprise Medical Bills and Skyrocketing Prescription Drug Costs

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee yesterday met with Granite Staters at Families First to discuss efforts to lower health care costs, including ending the absurd practice of surprise medical billing and lowering the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs.

Senator Hassan heard directly from constituents about their experiences with the health care system, including Sara Stewart of Dover who received a surprise medical bill for $700 after having surgery at an in-network hospital. Following the public attention on her case, Sara’s provider yesterday announced that she would no longer be responsible for the bill.

Senator Hassan has led efforts to end the practice of surprise medical bills, joining Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act, which now has 24 Senate cosponsors. This morning, Senator Hassan is participating in a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on legislation to end surprise medical bills. You can watch the hearing here.

Click here for the full Seacoast Online story or see excerpts below:

Seacoast Online: Legislation targets surprise medical bills

By Hadley Barndollar

When Sara Stewart underwent surgery at Portsmouth Regional Hospital in November 2018, after a year of several family hospitalizations and surgeries that maxed out their out-of-pocket spending, she was relieved the procedure was at least in-network, and that her family had already hit their deductible months prior.

But a few months later, she received a surprise bill for $700. While the hospital had been in-network, the independent anesthesiology group was not. Stewart, of Dover, said she had never been told about the out-of-network service, and said she never knowingly gave consent to an out-of-network provider.

…Stewart was one of several constituents who gathered Monday at Families First, a community health center, to discuss their unfortunately common situations with Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H. Hassan has led efforts in Congress to reduce the cost of health care for families, by joining colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce the bipartisan STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act, which now has 23 Senate cosponsors, to end the practice of surprise medical billing.

She also recently joined in introducing comprehensive legislation to hold large pharmaceutical companies accountable and bring down skyrocketing prescription drug costs.

“Your story illustrates surprise medical bills,” Hassan said to Stewart. “This story is being played out over and over again.”

This year, in February, Hassan’s guest for the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. was Donna Beckman, a Seabrook resident, who was shocked when she received a bill for $1,648 for her visit to Portsmouth Regional Hospital’s satellite emergency room in Seabrook two years ago. She went because she felt faint at home that day, and while she thought her visit was covered, she later learned the doctor she saw for five minutes was out of her insurance network.

“It shouldn’t be anything the patient has to worry about,” Hassan said. “I want people to engage in the health care system around their health care, not their bills. When you buy health insurance, you’re not supposed to be surprised by bills. That’s the whole point.”

…Dr. Robin Rosenbleeth, of Portsmouth Anesthesia Associates, which billed Stewart the $700, spoke to Seacoast Media Group on Monday following an inquiry about Stewart’s situation. He said it appeared Stewart “fell through the cracks,” and that he would reach out to her and “make sure she has no balance to pay going forward.”