Surprise billing

Texas is one of the few states that has actually passed legislation to help address surprise medical billing, a longstanding problem in our health-care system. While that’s something to be proud of for sure, the law still only covers about a third of the roughly 14 million Texans vulnerable to surprise bills. That’s why Congress must act.

However, differing solutions in Washington would have completely different outcomes for Texans and all Americans. As Congress steps up efforts to pass a surprise-billing fix, I know we can count on Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn to lead the charge to support the more effective solution — and that is the one that includes independent dispute resolution (IDR).

As outlined in the STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act introduced by Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, IDR would put in place a neutral, unbiased negotiation process so health insurers and medical providers could settle payment disputes between themselves without getting patients involved at all. A decision would ultimately be made by an independent mediator using a wide range of independent, third-party data to ensure fairness and transparency.

Compared to other so-called solutions that have been introduced — like a government-mandated benchmarking approach — IDR offers a far more reasonable, responsible fix for surprise billing. Benchmarking would only get the government more involved in health care and could end up skewing the marketplace in favor of big insurance companies, limiting access and driving up costs for patients.

Congress must keep up its momentum to solve surprise billing for good. Sens. Cruz and Cornyn should take this opportunity to lead on an issue that will help millions of Texans and patients throughout the nation. That means adopting the independent dispute resolution framework in Sen. Cassidy’s bill to any legislation Congress eventually passes.

Alex Viscusi, College Station

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