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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Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.

Minneapolis will ban police chokeholds following George Floyd's death

A memorial for George Floyd at the site of his death in Minneapolis. Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Minneapolis has agreed to ban the use of police chokeholds and will require nearby officers to act to stop them in the wake of George Floyd's death, AP reports.

Why it matters: The agreement between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which has launched an investigation into Floyd's death while in police custody, will be enforceable in court.