Update on Federal Surprise Billing Legislation: Understanding a Flurry of New Proposals

By Jack Hoadley, Beth Fuchs, and Kevin Lucia

In September, we wrote about the state of play for federal legislation on surprise medical bills. At the time, two bills had emerged from congressional committees: S. 1895, approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), and H.R. 2328, approved by the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee. Twenty-eight states have enacted consumer protections to address surprise medical bills — 13 of them meet our standard for comprehensive protection. But state laws cannot fully protect consumers. They can’t help people who have self-funded employer plans, which bear insurance risk for their employees and are offered by many employers. Federal ERISA law bars states from regulating such plans. States also are restricted from protecting people who receive surprise bills because of air ambulance services.

A Flurry of New Federal Proposals

In their latest blog post for the Commonwealth Fund, CHIR experts Jack Hoadley, Beth Fuchs, and Kevin Lucia assess a new proposal from leaders of the House Energy & Commerce and Senate Health, Education & Labor committees, as well as an initial agreement from the chair and ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee. You can find the full analysis of these bills and a comparison of pending balance billing legislation here.

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