The Medical Society of Delaware has joined its counterparts in other northeastern states in criticizing some proposed “surprise medical bills.” legislation now in Congress.
Suprise bills that can run into the tens of thousands come when patients receive care at a provider that is not in the network of their insurer.
In a joint statement the associations said they “applaud the many members of the US Congress who are seeking to take action to protect patients from surprise medical bills. However, what is needed is a balanced, comprehensive solution to this problem, not a one-sided gift to the insurance industry that will create shortages in our emergency departments and an acceleration of health care consolidation.”
Proposals that have begun to advance in the US House and Senate “give unilateral control to the insurance industry to determine what should be the cost of care in these instances. No negotiation. No compromise. No recognition of special circumstances surrounding the care delivery,” according to the statement from medical societies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maine and Delaware.
The assocaitions noted that when insurers were given this discretion, “what followed in California was a 48 percent increase in patient access to care complaints including delays in obtaining care or securing physician appointments, inadequate selection of providers, and problems accessing facilities.”
The statement went on to praise laws in New York and Connecticut that strike a balance “among health insurers, physicians, and hospitals to protect patients from surprise medical bills, while also ensuring the ability of hospital emergency departments to have available needed on-call specialty physician care to provide patient care when time is of the essence”
A recently released report from the New York Department of Financial Services showed consumers have saved more than $400 million since the law’s enactment. It also reduced out-of-network billing by nearly 35 percent, the medical associations noted.