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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congress says it's trying again to pass legislation protecting patients from surprise medical bills, but it doesn't appear to have resolved any of the fights that derailed the effort late last year.

The big picture: Surprise billing is the unique issue that splits lawmakers not by party, but by which industry group — insurers or providers — they sympathize with more. And both industries are fighting hard for their favored solution.

Driving the news: Two House committees released new surprise billing proposals on Friday, confirming that while everyone wants to prohibit surprise bills, there's still no agreement on how to resolve payment disputes between insurers and providers.

  • The Ways and Means Committee proposal includes a mediation process for when insurers and out-of-network providers can't agree on a payment rate, while the Energy and Commerce Committee's proposal from last year would decide payment rates using a blend of both arbitration and a benchmark.
  • The Education and Labor Committee's proposal — also released Friday — is similar to the Energy and Commerce plan.

What they're saying: The industry responded predictably to Friday's news.

  • The Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing, a group representing employers, insurers and unions, blasted the two new proposals, while the Federation of American Hospitals released a statement in support of the Ways and Means plan.
  • The groups' positions on the Energy and Commerce plan are reversed.

The bottom line: Lawmakers are faced with the same hard decisions that they punted in December, and industry groups aren't giving any indication that they'll make things any easier for members.

Go deeper: Surprise medical bills inflate everyone's health insurance premiums

Editor’s note: This piece was corrected to give more details and more accurately characterize the Energy and Commerce Committee's proposal.

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.