In early February, two federal bills targeting surprise billing in healthcare advanced out of committee. On February 11, the House Education and Labor Committee passed the Ban Surprise Billing Act (H.R. 5800), which was introduced by Chairman Rep. Bobby Scott (D. – Virginia) and Ranking Member Rep. Virginia Foxx (R. – North Carolina). One day later, the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously advanced the Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act (H.R. 5826), led by Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D. – Massachusetts) and Ranking Member Rep. Kevin Brady (R. – Texas). Both bills would prohibit providers from balance billing patients for surprise medical bills and would limit patients’ cost-sharing to in-network amounts. The two competing bills must be reconciled before the full House can vote on the issue. Leaders hope to include the final product in a spending bill that must pass Congress by May 22.
Similar scopes of coverage
The competing bills are substantively similar in several ways. Each bill applies to out-of-network emergency claims, to post-stabilization inpatient services provided to patients who are admitted to the hospital through the emergency room, and to non-emergency services provided at in-network facilities by out-of-network providers. The Ban Surprise Billing Act also covers air ambulance services. Additionally, both bills apply to all individual and group health plans (both fully- and self-insured) in the group and individual markets, but do not apply to federal programs such as Medicaid or the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The Ban Surprise Billing Act also extends to grandfathered health plans.