Sep 18, 2018

Senate wants to go after surprise medical bills

A new bill would try to resolve surprise emergency care bills. Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A group of U.S. senators, led by Republican Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, is working on a draft bill that would prohibit out-of-network hospitals and doctors from "balance billing" patients and would force health insurers to pay providers a negotiated amount, The Hill reports.

The big picture: The bill wouldn't be introduced until next year, but it shows legislators are getting an earful from constituents who are getting slammed by unexpected medical bills.

The details: Patients who get emergency care would not have to pay anything more than regular copays or other cost-sharing. Instead, health insurers would have to pay the out-of-network hospitals and doctors 125% of the usual in-network rate, which is determined by payment data housed by a nonprofit third party like FAIR Health or the Health Care Cost Institute.

Between the lines: This is a starting point that likely would anger insurers and would benefit out-of-network providers, because providers would be guaranteed rates that are higher than if they were in the insurance company's network.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

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SoftBank to cut its stake to get T-Mobile's Sprint deal done

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

T-Mobile and Sprint announced a revised merger agreement that will see SoftBank getting a smaller share of the combined company, while most shareholders will receive the previously agreed upon exchange rate. The companies said they hope to get the deal as early as April 1.

Why it matters: The amended deal reflects the decline in Sprint's business, while leaving most shareholders' stake intact and removing another hurdle to the deal's closure.