As millions of Americans ate turkey last week and discussed what they were thankful for, one subject that hopefully did not arise is surprise medical bills. Thanks to the No Surprises Act, which was enacted with broad bipartisan support in 2020, 9 million surprise medical bills were prevented in the first 9 months of this year. Unfortunately, certain providers are attempting to weaken guardrails in the law, which will reduce patient protections and likely drive-up costs for Americans and their families.
As we look back on the first year of implementation of the No Surprises Act – first signed by President Trump and implemented by President Biden beginning on January 1, 2022 – here are 4 examples showing the continued importance of the law for American patients:
- A group of private equity-backed physician staffing companies created a new lobbying group focused on surprise medical billing. According to STAT News, the group “Americans for Fair Healthcare” has formed an “under the radar coalition” that will lobby on the No Surprises Act. The article notes “longtime followers of the surprise billing debate will remember that this is a familiar tactic,” referencing the dark-money group called “Doctor Patient Unity” that private equity-backed groups hid behind in 2019to run television advertisements before the law passed.
- According to new data released by AHIP and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), which expanded upon previous survey analysis, the No Surprises Act has prevented 9 million surprise bills from reaching American families, highlighting the critical importance of the NSA for protecting patients from financial strain.
- A recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing found a majority of bipartisan voters are concerned about current attempts to weaken the NSA.
- A majority of voters with employer health insurance are concerned that lawsuits from some physician and hospital organizations could delay or overturn the patient protections in the NSA (73%) and increase health care costs for patients (78%).
- Considering private equity-backed groups lobbying against the NSA, a majority of voters with employer health insurance are concerned the new coalition of private equity groups will lobby to weaken the patient protections included in the NSA (82%), and lobby against provisions of the NSA that protect patients from higher health care costs (82%).
- More than 9 in 10 (92%) voters with employer health insurance are concerned about increasing health care costs considering inflation.
- Five experts in the health care field recently came together for a policymaker briefing to discuss how crucial measures in the NSA lower health care costs and protect patients from the financial harm of surprise medical bills.
The NSA is an important piece of legislation designed to protect patients and it is essential that the strong patient protections and cost-saving measures of the law and regulations remain in place.