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Physician outsourcing companies and private equity firms are enlisting new groups to lobby Congress as it considers how to protect patients from receiving large bills from out-of-network doctors who are at in-network facilities.

The big picture: Physician groups who most often mail out surprise medical bills are fighting proposals that take a bite out of their incomes to ease patients' financial burdens.

Driving the news: A group called US Physician Partners just hired Akin Gump to lobby over surprise bills, the coalition's third lobbying hire of the year.

  • US Physician Partners is affiliated with 3 physician staffing companies: US Acute Care Solutions, US Anesthesia Partners and US Radiology Specialists. Many surprise bills come from emergency room doctors, anesthesiologists and radiologists.
  • These same organizations funded another group that aired ads with false statements about a congressional proposal to cap doctors' out-of-network charges, PolitiFact and Kaiser Health News reported.
  • Private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe has an ownership stake in all of those companies.
  • US Acute Care Solutions did not address the lobbying in a statement, but said it supports legislation that would "incentivize all providers and insurers to negotiate in good faith." None of those companies or firms immediately responded to questions.

Private equity has gravitated toward specialties like emergency medicine and anesthesia because a few companies wield enormous market power. Now they and their portfolio companies are ratcheting up their lobbying presence as Congress gets closer to hammering out a final bill.

Go deeper: Capitol Hill sees bipartisan momentum on surprise medical billing

Go deeper

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.