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Ways & Means plans hearing on surprise billing next week

Illustration of a dollar sign springing out of a box with a healthcare cross on it.

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The House Ways and Means Committee is planning a hearing next week on surprise medical billing, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: The hearing escalates congressional pressure on HHS over how it has implemented the surprise billing law, amid a flurry of lawsuits and wrangling over the process insurers and providers are supposed to use to settle billing differences.

Between the lines: The witnesses and details of the hearing are not yet clear, but Ways and Means has traditionally been sympathetic to provider concerns.

Catch up quick: Providers and some members of Congress have argued the Biden administration's implementation of the law has led to a formula that gives doctors lower payments than the law intended.

  • The Texas Medical Association has filed a string of lawsuits and won some early victories in the courts.
  • Insurers, unions, and consumer groups have generally been on the other side, arguing that providers are simply seeking to inflate their payments, and are pushing for implementation that saves the health care system money.
  • House Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone has also defended the administration's implementation as consistent with congressional intent.

The big picture: The Ways and Means hearing also shows that Chair Jason Smith is keeping an eye on health care issues even as he helps lead an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

  • Smith also held an event on Monday on rural health care with doctors in his district.
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