Senator Blackburn Leads Letter Opposed to Price Controls in Surprise Medical Billing

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Wednesday, December 9th, 2020, 11:10 AM PERMALINK

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has led a letter urging Congress to reject proposals to impose price controls as a solution to surprise medical billing. The letter, which was signed by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), specifically calls on Congress to reject efforts to include government mandated rate setting proposals in an end of year package.

The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Surprise medical billing occurs when an individual receives an unexpectedly high medical bill as a result of being out-of-network or receiving emergency care. 

Unfortunately, some lawmakers want to address 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. 

The negative impact of price controls would be devastating to providers. When applied to surprise medical billing, price controls would result in a 20 percent pay cut for doctors, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Over the long-term, price controls could lead to a shortage of doctors and care.

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. They are a tool of the left to expand the size and scope of government and are a key part of the socialist Medicare for All proposal being pushed by far-left Members of Congress like Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

There is strong opposition to price controls in surprise medical billing. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga) recently released a healthcare reform proposal that explicitly rejected price controls.

Earlier this year, Congressman Andy Harris (R-Md.) released a joint letter with almost 40 members of Congress in opposition to price controls in surprise medical billing.

As lawmakers look to wrap up the year with a government funding package, they should reject efforts to impose price controls on surprise medical billing. Senator Blackburn should be applauded for fighting against price controls and standing for free market policies. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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