Jan 24, 2019

Trump talks surprise medical bills

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

Trump speaks at yesterday's roundtable. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Surprise medical bills are on President Trump's radar, as yesterday's White House roundtable on health care costs made clear.

One big quote: "Patients should know ... the real price and what’s going on with the real prices of procedures. Because they don’t know," Trump said. "They go in, they have a procedure, and then all of a sudden, they can’t afford it. They had no idea it was so bad."

Where it stands: It would mostly be up to Congress to address the issue of surprise billing. But there are a few things the administration — specifically, the Department of Labor — could do. A recent Brookings brief outlined the department’s options:

  • Clarify states’ authority to establish provider rates, including in surprise billing situations.
  • Determine that bills from out-of-network providers count toward patients' out-of-pocket maximums.
  • Require employer plans to comply with billing dispute resolution processes that states have created.
  • Require employer plans to notify patients that their providers might be out of network.

Go deeper: Surprise medical bills could be a powerful campaign issue

Go deeper

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