Hospitals are becoming increasingly aggressive in attempts to collect on medical bills, with hospitals around the country initiating thousands of lawsuits against indebted patients. Debtors can actually find themselves in jail, whereas other patients can find themselves filing for bankruptcy due to an influx of medical bills.
In early February, the House Committee on Ways and Means released text of the Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act of 2020, the Committee’s proposal to shield patients from surprise medical bills that may lead to bankruptcy. The bill, which has been labeled as “provider-friendly,” aims to protect patients from balance bills and enhance consumer protections, requiring greater transparency and empowering patients with information about their health care costs.
The bill also includes an independent, mediated negotiation process to resolve billing disagreements, first offering providers or individuals a 30-day window to share information and try to reach resolutions on their own.
In releasing the bill proposal, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) noted, “Our bipartisan approach differs from other proposals in that we require – for the first time – that patients receive a true and honest bill in advance of scheduled procedures and we create a more balanced negotiation process to encourage all parties to resolve their reimbursement differences before using the streamlined and fair dispute resolution process.”
Hospital groups also have voiced their support of the new bill.