ACR supports legislation to address surprise medical bills

The American College of Radiology (ACR) announced its support of a bipartisan proposal to relieve patients of surprise medical bills.

In a statement released May 23, the ACR endorsed the Protecting People From Surprise Medical Bills Act drafted by Representatives Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA), Phil Roe, MD (R-TN), Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Van Taylor (R-TX), Ami Bera, MD (D-CA), Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), Donna Shalala (D-FL) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH).

As of now the legislation is only a preliminary outline, but the ACR believes it properly balances the issues of surprise out-of-pocket costs and the patient-physician relationship—concerns expressed by patients, physicians and policymakers.

According to a statement on Congressman Ruiz’s website, the finalized legislation is expected in the coming weeks and will ban the practice of “balance-billing” for out-of-network (OON) care. That includes OON imaging or lab services ordered by an in-network provider, along with a host of other OON situations.

The legislation is modeled on an approach adopted by New York State in 2015 which utilizes an independent dispute resolution process (IDR). This protects patients from unfair unanticipated medical bills and forces insurers and providers to go through a neutral arbitration system to resolve payment issues.

“The College firmly believes that a solution built upon proven concepts of existing statutes in the states, such as New York, appropriately balances the interests of stakeholders while leaving patients out of the middle,” according to the ACR statement. “The College is committed to working with Congress to advance a sensible approach to this critical issue."