xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Democrats should target surprise medical billing

I applaud the work of the Democrats in the House Of Representatives to pass the prescription drug act named for my late friend Congressman Elijah Cummings (“Eyeing 2020, House passes bill named after Elijah Cummings that would empower Medicare to negotiate drug costs,” Dec. 12).

The Sun reported the legislation will lower drug prices and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. I urge Democrats in the House and the Senate: Do not stop there. Continue working on lowering health care costs by addressing the issue of surprise medical billing, which reportedly affects 140 million Americans. Surprise medical billing happens when patients go to a hospital that is in their insurance network and get a “surprise” bill for care by an emergency room doctor who is not in their network. Fortunately, there is a proven solution the problem of surprise billing. In 2015, New York implemented a system called independent dispute resolution (IDR), which takes the patient completely out of a dispute between a health provider and insurance companies. New York has saved $400 million dollars and seen a 34% decrease in its out-of-network care rates. The best part is that patients are only responsible for their usual co-payment and in-network costs.

Advertisement

This is a far better approach than setting rates for doctors arbitrarily low and thereby shifting huge financial losses onto local hospitals and emergency rooms. Particularly in rural and other under-served communities, this “benchmarking” approach threatens care and increases costs for vulnerable patients. I hope Maryland’s congressional delegation, ably lead by my friend Rep. Steny Hoyer, will work to improve current legislation to include a strong independent dispute resolution process that protects patients and maintains the strength of our health care system.

Ann Marie Doory, Baltimore

Advertisement
Advertisement

The writer was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1987 to 2010.

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement