As Congress reconvenes to advance meaningful legislation to prevent surprise medical bills, the Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing brought together experts from across the health system to dissect the key pressure points driving this unforgiving trend, including the growing dominance of private equity firms and the consequences to employers and unions. Highlights are included below:

“There’s no actual policy reason for arbitration. It adds administrative costs and makes the process more opaque.” – Loren Adler, USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy

“Employers play an essential role in our health care system in the United States, and surprise billing is a growing problem for both employees and employers.” – Steve Wojcik, National Business Group on Health

“Every time a self-insured employer has to pay a 10 or 20 thousand dollar bill for an out-of-network specialist, it’s that much harder to increase the wages of a service sector worker. We’re literally taking money out of the pocket of a home health worker who earns $30,000 or a nurse who earns $60,000 and giving it to an anesthesiologist who, on average, earns $380,000 a year.” – Lee Goldberg, AFL-CIO

“In any other market, this would be insane. If you went to a restaurant and then the busboy sent you a separate bill once you left, that would be absurd. Or if you went to the auto mechanic, and you paid one bill but then the guy who fixed your bumper sent you a different bill than the one who fixed your side mirror—this just doesn’t happen in normal markets.” – Loren Adler, USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy

“We don’t want excessive charges passed along to our health insurance premiums. Affordability of health care really matters to consumers and already we have 40% of consumers skipping medical treatment because it’s just too expensive.” – Chuck Bell, Consumer Reports

“I heard from one of our largest affiliates the other day about a woman, a home health worker who has kidney disease and is diabetic, and had a $75,000 surprise bill. I mention that because it’s important to recognize the tradeoff between wages and health care. Health benefits are always a contentious issue when it comes to renegotiating collective bargaining agreements. The greater the cost of health care, the less money there is for wage increases.” – Lee Goldberg, AFL-CIO