Private Equity Firms Think They Have Won The Surprise Billing Battle – Why That Is A Bad Thing For Patients

At a time when millions of patients are still at risk of bankrupting surprise medical bills, those most responsible for these charges appear to be taking a victory lap, according to BuzzFeed News. “The private equity firms that profit off of surprise billing and mounted an ad campaign against the legislation have gone dark. It’s a sign that the battle in Congress may be over.”

For months, private equity firms have blocked every attempt at meaningful and important reforms that would safeguard patients from medical charges that are unfair and exorbitant. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have slashed their own doctors’ pay and benefits to run misleading and disingenuous political campaigns disguising their role as the culprits behind surprise billing. In April, ProPublica noted that Envision Healthcare and TeamHealth – medical staffing companies backed by private equity firms – spent “$2.2 million [on advertising] since Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency on Jan. 31. About $1.2 million has been spent since President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration on March 13.”

The time is long past for Congress to take comprehensive action on surprise medical bills. Failure to do so will leave more than 100 million Americans and their families without protection during this ongoing public health and economic crisis. It will force patients to rethink or forego medical care altogether at a time when many have put off their own health because of concerns around COVID-19.

Policymakers have actionable solutions on the table now that can address this affordability challenge. Establishing fair, market-based rates for out-of-network reimbursement ensures that all Americans can benefit from negotiated rates for essential medical care. It also extends vital protections against surprise medical bills during unexpected emergencies and for care provided at an in-network hospital. And at a time when American taxpayers are looking for relief, this market-based approach delivers $25 billion in savings back to employers and families – as opposed to private equity firms.

There’s no question taking action on surprise medical billing is the right thing to do on behalf of patients. It’s time for policymakers to make that happen.