Watchdog Urges Congress to Keep Rate-Setting Out of Coronavirus Relief Package

Watchdog Urges Congress to Keep Rate-Setting Out of Coronavirus Relief Package

For Immediate Release
March 23, 2020
Contact: Grace Morgan
(202-855-4380)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) urged Congress to refrain from inserting healthcare rate-setting into the third Coronavirus relief package. Recent reports suggest that the White House and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) want to use coronavirus stimulus legislation to impose deeply discounted in-network prices on physicians across the country. Lawmakers such as Sen. Alexander and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) have repeatedly pushed for rate-setting as a “solution” to surprise medical billing, which occurs when patients discharged from an in-network hospital receive an out-of-network bill from an attending doctor. 

TPA President David Williams urged lawmakers to keep rate-setting out of coronavirus legislation, noting, “As the coronavirus pandemic continues unabated and millions of workers lose their livelihoods, it’s been an exceptionally difficult month for millions of Americans. Yet as members of Congress work tirelessly to cobble together a series of responses (i.e. free testing, paid leave, direct payments to individuals and families) some policymakers and talking heads believe that the government should focus on…rate-setting in the healthcare sector. Struggling Americans need relief right now, not a cockamamie, back-door price-fixing of the healthcare system.” 

Williams continued: “Lawmakers are bizarrely calling for rate-setting at a time when healthcare providers and practices across the country are frantically doing what they can to expand their reach and help sick patients. Physicians and healthcare providers are putting their lives on the line undeterred by waived patient copays and suspended medical debt. Despite these commendable efforts, policymakers are proposing to immediately slash payments to physicians by requiring them to accept deeply discounted, in-network insurance rates. At a time when there is a dire shortage of doctors across the country, the results would be catastrophic.” 

Williams concluded: “California’s experience with rate-setting proves that, whenever the government dictates prices, closures and consolidations go up while patients’ satisfaction with their care goes down. We can’t afford to export this failed model nationwide during the worst public health emergency in our lifetimes. The last thing patients need right now are artificially low healthcare pricing policies. Lawmakers should resist the urge to stick unrelated, counterproductive policies into what should be a high-minded, targeted relief package. The stakes are simply too high to pursue destructive digressions.” 

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