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Neurosurgery Submits Comments to Senate Regarding Surprise Billing Legislation

On Sept. 18, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), along with five of his colleagues — Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) — released draft legislation to end surprise medical bills. The draft bill is intended to jumpstart discussions in Congress about how to best stop the use of balance billing to charge patients for emergency treatment or treatment provided by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility. On Oct. 10, the AANS and CNS submitted a comment letter — prepared with the assistance of neurosurgeons Luis M. Tumialán, MD, FAANS; Michael H. Brisman, MD, FAANS; and Jay Nathan, MD — recognizing that while Americans continue to struggle with rising health care costs, including high deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses, a balanced solution for cost-sharing between patients, physicians and health plans is necessary. The letter concurs that legislation should protect patients from “surprise” bills, but points out that the practice of narrowing networks by commercial payers is a central reason physicians practice out-of-network and the root cause of many of these “surprise” bills. The AANS and CNS urged the senators to make a number of changes to the draft proposal to:

  • Ensure network adequacy;
  • Establish fair and transparent out-of-network payment rates based on the FAIR Health, Inc., database; and
  • Allow balance billing in certain limited circumstances.

Senator Cassidy and his colleagues plan to introduce this legislation before the end of the year and neurosurgery will continue to stay engaged on the issue.

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