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First look: Bipartisan bill targets anti-competitive practices

Victoria Knight
May 8, 2023
Congresswoman Michelle Steel stands in front of an American flag

Then-congressional candidate Michelle Steel at a press conference in November 2020. Photo: Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Lawmakers in both chambers are reintroducing a bill Monday that would crack down on anti-competitive practices among hospitals and allow for more flexible contracts between payers and providers.

Why it matters: The bill, which seeks to ban practices used by large health care systems, is another addition to the growing amount of bipartisan legislation building up this Congress that's targeting hospitals.

Details: The bill would allow insurers and employers to contract with whichever hospitals and providers made sense for their patients, but wouldn't require contracts with other affiliated providers.

  • It would also allow insurers to negotiate their own rates with other providers who aren't in their network, and allow hospitals and insurers to negotiate prices without requirements to stick to prices that other insurers have agreed to.
  • The bill does have exceptions for certain group arrangements, including HMOs and value-based networks.
  • Supporters of the bill include Families USA, the ERISA Industry Committee, American Benefits Council and the Small Business Majority.

The intrigue: A version of the bill passed as part of a larger health package out of the Senate HELP Committee in 2019. This is the first time the bill has been introduced in the House.

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