My $145,000 Surprise Medical Bill

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    In the House of Representatives, two bills have been proposed recently to address crises like the one now facing our family. The Ban Surprise Billing Act, sponsored by Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, would require hospitals to notify patients and get consent if they will be receiving any out-of-network treatment. And last week, the Ways and Means Committee sent the Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act to the House floor. This would also flag potential out-of-network costs for patients, and require insurers and providers to settle disputes through arbitration.

    I have no idea how these bills will fare in the Republican-controlled Senate (and they have not yet even been passed by the full House), although I will note that the Senate is the same institution which devoted itself in 2017 to the noble dream of taking away health care coverage from 29 million people by repealing the Affordable Care Act. That effort failed by a single vote, of course — the last great political act of John McCain, who, although no fan of Obamacare, hated even more the idea of bullies picking on the little guy.

    The presidential election will give us a chance to end bullying of many different varieties. If Senator Elizabeth Warren winds up not becoming the nominee, it is possible that one reason for this was voter uncertainty about her “Medicare for all” proposal. Apparently whenever Americans consider this idea, we are thrown into a panic by the possibility that we will lose our health care insurance, and that it will be replaced by some governmental entity.

    Such as Medicare, which people like, by a wide margin.

    Ronald Reagan denounced Medicare, back in 1961, as socialized medicine. If Medicare wasn’t blocked, he said, “one of these days we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.” Before Medicare, only 54 percent of Americans 65 and over had hospital coverage; three years after its passage, 96 percent of older Americans did. Eighty percent to 90 percent of recipients really like Medicare — and these older Americans are the most conservative voters in the country.

    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

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