In rural America, access to health care providers was already a challenge. Many of us rely on a limited number of options for hospitals and medical providers to service the needs of our community. Across the country, the strain on the health care system has only been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. But if that weren’t challenging enough, big insurance companies have been at work in Washington trying to stick patients and doctors with even more costs all while raking in huge profits during this public health emergency.
If insurance companies can get Congress to pass “rate-setting” legislation, allowing insurers to arbitrarily set below-market reimbursement rates for the critical care provided by our rural physicians and medical facilities. Those costs that insurance companies won’t cover would be borne by doctors, hospitals, and patients who often don’t have the ability to select an in-network facility in their communities. If passed, frontline medical workers who are putting themselves in harm’s way, could see a 20% pay cut which risks hospital closure threatens the health and care of Americans in rural areas.
There’s a clear and better choice: Congress can pass Independent Dispute Resolution, as we did in Maine, ending surprise medical billing of patients and ensuring that billing disputes between insurance companies and medical providers are mediated by an objective third-party.
This bipartisan legislation will ensure that patients aren’t stuck with financially devastating bills and rural medical providers aren’t at risk of closing their doors. Those of us faced with limited health care options need Congress to make it easier for us to obtain the critical care we need in the moments that matter most.
Sen. Brad Farrin