posted on November 19, 2019 17:59
We are currently advocating that state lawmakers put patients first and consider a comprehensive, balanced solution to “surprise billing.” The Michigan Society of Anesthesiologists (MSA) continues to support efforts to tackle the issue of surprise billing, unfortunately, House Bills 4459 and 4460, and Senate Bills 570 and 572, continue to place patients’ interests behind those of health insurance companies.
Recently, the House Health Policy Committee reported the bills (HB 4459-4460) and the legislation is now before the House Ways and Means Committee for a secondary review. While amendments were adopted in the Health Policy Committee, the legislation continues to establish aggressive price controls based on Medicare fees or median in-network rates, thus creating a mechanism to lower specialty physician payments statewide. And the bills continue to fail to ensure adequate networks and thereby affecting patients’ access to care.
The Senate Insurance and Banking Committee has taken a few weeks of testimony on Senate Bills 570 and 572 and we expect the bills to come up again the first week of December, when lawmakers return from the Thanksgiving/Hunting Break.
We urge you to contact your lawmakers – you can begin the process at this link to do it with a few clicks of your mouse – and ask them to work to ensure any legislation to address surprise billing represents a comprehensive, balanced solution that does not risk patients’ access to care.
Thank the lawmakers for tackling the very real problem of surprise billing, and ask them to change House Bills 4459 & 4460 and Senate Bills 570 & 572 to address network adequacy and ensure patients’ access to care. Here are some additional talking points when reaching out to your lawmaker:
- The bills favor insurance companies by setting price controls for out of network medical care below current contracted rates.
- Carriers will be incentivized to drop physicians from their networks in order take advantage of the low rates.
- One carrier has already begun to drop anesthesia practices from its network, citing the new fee schedule.
- The bills lack a fair mechanism to resolve disputes between physicians and insurance companies.
- The bills lack any requirement that carriers maintain adequate physician networks.
- As an anesthesiologist, I also support working to find a solution in order to protect patients from surprise or unexpected medical bills. But there needs to be further discussion on alternative solutions to address this problem without harming patients’ access to care. I ask you to consider slowing the process down to ensure all sides can give input on a balanced approach to surprise billing.
Lawmakers need to hear from you today! On behalf of the MSA, thank you for your willingness to fight alongside of us to help protect patients!
Roy Soto, M.D.
 Priority Health has terminated contracts with at least two anesthesia practices in the last six weeks. These contracts had been in place for over ten years.