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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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Nursing homes are still getting pummeledU.S. could hit herd immunity by end of summer 2021 if Americans embrace virus vaccines, Fauci says.
  2. Politics: Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework.
  3. World: U.K. clears Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for mass rollout — Putin says Russia will begin large-scale vaccination next week.
  4. Business: Investors are finally starting to take their money out of safe-haven Treasuries.
  5. Sports: The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight.

Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to use a $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief framework as a basis for jumpstarting negotiations.

Why it matters: The framework, introduced by a group of bipartisan senators on Tuesday, calls for significantly less funding than Pelosi had previously demanded — a sign that Democrats are ready to further compromise as millions of Americans endure economic hardship.