Monday, September 27, 2021


The House could vote this week on the Build Back Better infrastructure bill, which contains resources to fight climate change, and the NTSB investigates an Amtrak derailment in north-central Montana.


A government shutdown looms as the Senate prepares to vote on the debt ceiling, former President Trump holds a rally in Georgia, the U.S. reopens a Texas border crossing, and an Amtrak train crash kills three in Montana.


A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Federal Lawmakers Considering Bill to Stop Surprise Medical Billing


Tuesday, September 17, 2019   

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Congress is considering legislation to stop surprise medical bills. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2017, 7% of Kentuckians received at least one out-of-network medical charge.

Katy Spangler with the Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing said the Lower Health Care Costs Act would help protect consumers. Several years ago, when she was having her first child, she discovered how just one medical event could result in a charge running into the tens of thousands of dollars.

"I was able to pick my physician, make sure that my physician was in-network. I was able to pick my hospital, make sure that they were in-network. But, I didn't need the anesthesiologist until I was in a gown, ready to go and have my baby,” Spangler said. “There was no way for me to pick and make sure that my anesthesiologist was in-network."

Spangler said a scenario like this typically generates a surprise medical bill. The Lower Health Care Costs Act, introduced this summer by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and others, would establish a benchmark for medical billing based on region.

Spangler said federal legislation needs to be passed so people don't get saddled with monstrous bills simply because they had an emergency and were unable to select an in-network provider.

"But where it gets a lot trickier, there are these providers that you don't pick,” she explained. “And the problem has really been exacerbated because of this market failure. Those providers can charge really high rates - many, many many multiples of the Medicare program."

Some physicians groups opposing the legislation say the bill could have unintended consequences.

Spangler said some private equity-backed or hedge fund-owned physician staffing companies are purposefully going out of network in order to raise rates.

"So one of the companies that does this, called EmCare, before they went into an area, the amount that was paid for an ER visit was $467. After EmCare came in, they increased that price to $1,649,” Spangler said.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are now investigating the role of private equity firms in driving up costs that result in surprise medical bills.

get more stories like this via email

Many people with developmental disabilities couldn't receive meaningful day services during the pandemic. (Adobe stock)

Health and Wellness

BALTIMORE -- Spurred on by COVID challenges, a grant from the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council to two human services providers is …


RUBY MOUNTAINS, Nev. -- Nevada is the driest state in the nation, yet few of its rivers and streams have federal protections. Now a new report …


ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. -- This weekend, athletes from across the nation gathered in South Pass City to Run the Red, a series of marathons through the Red …

With census data showing a more diverse population in Minnesota, advocates say it's important to adopt policies that meet the needs of growing racial groups, including older residents. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The challenges facing older Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Minnesotans will be the focal point of a virtual forum tomorrow…

Social Issues

TOLEDO, Ohio -- As the Biden administration engages in talks with the European Union about dropping tariffs on its steel exports, many U.S.-based …

Raise the Wage Nebraska's goal is to collect 130,000 signatures across communities in Nebraska. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

LINCOLN, Neb. - A coalition of Nebraska community organizations and supporters are collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would raise the …

Social Issues

MADISON, Wis. - Prescription drug costs are climbing faster than wages for the average Wisconsin resident. That's according to a new analysis…

Social Issues

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Caregivers at group homes in Connecticut have sent strike notices to two agencies after failure to reach contract agreements to …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021