Effort to Take On Surprise Medical Billing in Coronavirus Stimulus Collapses
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Slowing and weakening surprise billing reform has been a driving motivation of House Ways and Means Chair Richie Neal, D-Mass., during this past congressional term. The issue fell under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee, whose chair, Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, hammered out a tough reform bill on the bipartisan issue with his Republican counterparts. Neal, however, invented jurisdiction for the Ways and Means Committee — the panel has jurisdiction over taxation, and he linked the issue to government revenue in a roundabout way — and put forward his own proposal that was much more favorable to the private equity industry.
McConnell was not interested in including the provision, according to three Senate aides. Neal was also an obstacle to getting reform into the Covid-19 bill, said one member of Congress briefed on the talks. “The one stumbling block has been of course, Richie trying to scuttle it,” the member said.
Neal has drawn criticism for his opposition to ending surprise medical billing and his ties to Blackstone, his top funder this cycle. The progressive group Fighting Corporate Monopolies ran ads attacking Neal, during his primary against Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, over “protecting Blackstone’s profits” by helping last year to kill a Senate compromise deal that would have ended surprise billing, The Intercept previously reported. Neal pulled in major donations from Blackstone executives at the same time he went to work against surprise billing — an unusually close link between campaign contributions and congressional action. Many private equity executives are known to own vacation homes in the Berkshires, which Neal represents.
Surprise billing happens when a patient is in a hospital or medical facility that is within their insurance network but is treated, perhaps only during a single round, by a doctor who is out of network. Patients, of course, have no way of knowing or checking whether the doctor making rounds is in their network or not, so private equity firms have purchased providers and arranged service to maximize the number of times an out-of-network doctor can treat a patient. Those bills are then exponentially higher, landing at the feet of both patients — in the form of copays and deductibles — and insurance companies, who pay the remainder.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
December 11, 2020 at 3:16 PM #384842
December 11, 2020 at 3:47 PM #384852Ohio BarbarianModerator
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They won’t stop stealing from us until we force them to stop.
It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs
You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton
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