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Senator Hassan’s Bipartisan Measure to End Surprise Medical Billing Included in Year-End Funding Package that Passed House and Senate

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan successfully fought to include a provision in the year-end package that passed the House and Senate earlier this week to help end the practice of surprise medical billing, which Senator Hassan has led bipartisan efforts on for the past two years.


Senator Hassan previously teamed up with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and their colleagues from both parties to craft the STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act to end this practice. In May of 2019, Senators Hassan joined President Trump at a White House event on the need to address this issue. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee – on which Senator Hassan serves – passed legislation to end surprise medical bills as part of a broader package of legislation to address health care costs called the Lower Health Care Costs Act. Since then, Senator Hassan has worked with her colleagues in both parties in the Senate and House to reach the final agreement that was included in the year-end package. 


See below for coverage highlights:


Union Leader: COVID relief bill will end surprise medical billing

By Kevin Landrigan

The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package making its way through Congress includes an end to surprise medical billing, capping off a two-year bipartisan campaign Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and colleagues have been pursuing.


The reform made its way into the 5,600-page bill and Hassan said that’s a testament to how much the congressional leadership and President Donald Trump wanted this achievement to be in one of the final acts of lame-duck Congress in 2020.


During a telephone interview Monday, Hassan said the final product was similar to the bill she shepherded through the Senate a year ago with Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.


“I felt it was really important we do this in a way that not only saved patients but taxpayers’ dollars as well,” Hassan said.


“Experts have concluded that this approach is likely to save taxpayers $18 billion.”


The deal also made a price accommodation for smaller providers, especially in rural areas, she said.


“Another goal in this legislation was to protect the smallest providers and allow that their costs might be a little higher so we could keep a balance of urban and rural providers thriving in the health care system,” Hassan said.


[…] “For surprise medical billing, the key to reform is to get the patients out of this process. You did everything your insurance company told you to do and I heard story after story from constituents who ended up with these charges that they had no way of controlling,” Hassan said.


[…] The proposal would not start this reform until Jan. 1, 2022.


[...] “We had a whole group of bipartisan senators working on this. This is something that impacts Americans from all walks of life,” Hassan said.


“This is a really good step forward. I wanted people to know that their voices had been heard. It’s really good to know people from both parties were able to come together.” […]


WMUR: Hassan, colleagues win approval of end to ‘surprise medical bills’ in comprehensive end-of-year deal

By John DiStaso


A long sought-after provision to end “surprise medical billing” co-championed by Sen. Maggie Hassan has made its way into the $2.3 trillion end-of-year congressional agreement that includes the new $900 billion COVID-19 relief package.


[…] Hassan found an ally on this issue in President Donald Trump. She and Cassidy joined Trump at a White House event in May 2019 supporting an end to the practice. Earlier last year, Hassan hosted at Trump's State of the Union address Donna Beckman of Seabrook, who received a surprise medical bill for $1,648 two years earlier following a visit to an emergency room that was in her network.


According to Hassan’s office, Beckman was told later that a doctor she saw for about five minutes was actually out-of-network.


The Hassan-Cassidy bill had originally been planned to pass and sent to Trump last year, but it ran into a roadblock in the House.


According to Hassan’s office, about two weeks ago, an agreement was reached among the Senate HELP Committee, on which Hassan and Cassidy serve, and three relevant House committees.


Hassan and Cassidy, along with Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, led a letter by 27 senators to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last week urging passage.


Hassan, as well as her New Hampshire colleague, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and other senators had been targets of advertising opposing an end to surprise medical billing by a dark money group affiliated with private equity-backed companies that own physician practices that staff emergency rooms around the country.


[…] In a joint statement, Hassan and Cassidy said: “For far too long, our constituents have done everything right at the doctor’s office or hospital, yet still found themselves stuck with surprise medical bills, sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.


“And frequently they have to fight these bills at the same time they are facing a medical crisis. That’s why we teamed up two years ago to work across the aisle, find a compromise, and put an end to the outrageous and unfair practice, and we have continued this bipartisan work ever since then.


“We are proud that our efforts have now led to the inclusion of legislation to end surprise medical billing in this year’s government funding agreement, which will help provide significant relief to countless Americans."


Hassan, Cassidy and 25 other Senate supporters have said the bill would not only end surprise medical bills for patients but would also provide $18 billion in federal savings.


Hassan and Cassidy were cited by HELP Committee Chair Alexander and ranking member Murray in comments Sunday night after the agreement was announced. Alexander called them “instrumental leaders.” […]


Inside Health Policy: Surprise Billing Deal Included In Omnibus With Provider-Friendly Changes

By Ariel Cohen


House and Senate leadership agreed to include surprise billing legislation in the year-end spending deal that both chambers plan to take up Monday (Dec. 21), but the legislation now bans the arbiter from considering Medicare and Medicaid rates. This small policy change skews the final policy even more towards what hospital associations and providers wanted, and away from insurers’ desired outcome.


Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spent the past two years trying to hammer out a deal on legislation to end surprise medical billing, but the competing interests of providers and insurers thwarted past efforts.


[…] Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) were among the first senators working to end surprise billing, and they welcomed the policy’s inclusion in the year-end funding agreement.


The Hill: Surprise medical bill prevention included in year-end legislative package

By Peter Sullivan


Bipartisan legislation to protect patients from getting massive “surprise” medical bills is included in a year-end package deal reached Sunday, clearing the way for the measure to pass Congress after almost two years of negotiations.


[…] Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who also helped lead the push, praised the provision's inclusion in a statement Sunday.


“For far too long, our constituents have done everything right at the doctor’s office or hospital yet still found themselves stuck with surprise medical bills, sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars,” they said.