May 10, 2019

White House wades into surprise medical billing debate

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The White House said yesterday that it wants Congress to pass legislation protecting patients from receiving surprise medical bills after they visit the emergency room or unknowingly receive care from providers not covered by their insurance.

Between the lines: While the White House declined to say how it wanted billing disputes between insurers and providers resolved, it said that it's not enthusiastic about an arbitration process, which some industry groups favor.

  • Other solutions that have been floated include setting rates or paying hospitals and doctors in one payment, forcing them to figure out who gets what.

The other side: Provider groups didn't love the White House's skepticism toward arbitration, or its principle that "out-of-network providers cannot separately bill patients."

  • "While the idea of a single bill sounds appealing, putting that into practice could have significant unintended consequences," the American Medical Association said in a statement.
  • "Ideas like 'bundled payments' and rate setting may seem straightforward, but the truth is they are untested, unproven and an unnecessary government intrusion into the private market," the Federation of American Hospitals said.

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House passes bill to make lynching a federal hate crime

Photo: Aaron P. Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images

The House voted 410-4 on Wednesday to pass legislation to designate lynching as a federal hate crime.

Why it matters: Congress has tried and failed for over 100 years to pass measures to make lynching a federal crime.

This year's census may be the toughest count yet

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Community leaders are concerned that historically hard-to-count residents will be even harder to count in this year's census, thanks to technological hurdles and increased distrust in government.

Why it matters: The census — which will count more than 330 million people this year — determines how $1.5 trillion in federal funding gets allocated across state and local governments. Inaccurate counts mean that communities don't get their fair share of those dollars.

Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

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