According to recent media reports, members of the House and Senate are pushing to add unrelated price controls legislation to the phase three Coronavirus legislation. This would add contentious legislation dealing with surprise medical billing that has been opposed by conservatives on and off the hill to legislation that is being considered because of a national emergency. This should be rejected.
Conservatives oppose price controls because they utilize government power to forcefully lower costs in a way that distorts the economically efficient behavior and natural incentives created by the free market.
Unfortunately, some lawmakers have proposed to implement price controls as a solution to surprise medical billing, which is when an individual receives an unexpectedly high medical bill as a result of being out of network or receiving emergency care.
While surprise billing should be addressed, some lawmakers have proposed solving this problem by using the heavy hand of government to set rates for any payments made to out-of-network providers. Under this proposal, the government would set a benchmark rate to resolve out-of-network payment disputes between insurers and providers. Benchmark rate-setting would replace private negotiations between insurers and providers with government-set prices, a blatant price control on the healthcare system.
By giving government more control over the healthcare system, this rate setting proposal inches the healthcare system closer to socialized healthcare, which the left disingenuously calls “Medicare for All.”
Under Medicare for All, the government would set prices for all healthcare, an outcome that will lead to lower quality of care for patients and cut doctor compensation, which will reduce the amount of care supplied.
Under this system, Americans would not have a choice of insurer or health benefits and the development of new treatments and technologies would be slowed. Under this system, Americans would not have a choice of insurer or health benefits and the development of new treatments and technologies would be slowed.
Unsurprisingly, there is significant opposition from conservatives to price setting and price controls. 75 conservative organizations recently released a letter urging Trump and Republican members of the House and Senate to oppose any price controls.
In addition, Congressman Andy Harris (R-Md.) released a letter signed by 39 conservatives in the House including new White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Johnson (R-La.).
Lawmakers need to take a serious, deliberative approach in addressing surprise billing instead of rushing to attach a flawed proposal that imposes price controls onto Coronavirus legislation.