Republicans Propose "Free Market" Solution To Unexpected Medical Bills

Nov 1, 2019
Originally published on October 31, 2019 11:38 am

Several Ohio House Republicans are backing a bill that they say provides options to avoid "surprise billing", when patients get unexpected big invoices from out of network providers after visiting an in-network hospital or health care facility.

“Surprise medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in Ohio," said Rep. Adam Holmes (R-Nashport), introducing his proposal that he says will stop it.

Holmes - joined by Republican Reps. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) and Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) - doesn’t regulate billing or have mandates on insurers. He said creates options for out-of-network providers such as anesthesiologists or ER doctors. They can choose to be paid the in-network rate, to negotiate a different rate, or go to a third party for “baseball style” arbitration with the insurer.

But Holmes said the patient is protected: “No fault for patients. That’s the number one thing that we’re going to get out of this and end the surprise bills.”

Holmes said one-third of privately insured Ohioans report having received a surprise medical bill. And he said a recent study from Stanford University reported the average "surprise bill" tripled over the last seven years to more than $2000.

Two state senators - Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) have introduced a different bipartisan bill on "surprise billing". But Holmes said his House bill will reduce insurance costs to purchasers such as businesses.

Holmes said he’s willing to take this idea to Gov. Mike DeWine, who had vetoed a surprise billing provision in the budget, saying it could duplicate federal efforts on that issue.

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