As Executive Director of the Wyoming Medical Society, it is my job to provide representation, advocacy and service to Wyoming physicians and work to improve the health of Wyoming’s citizens. Ending “surprise billing” for patients, which occurs when insurance companies refuse to pay what medical services cost, creating conflict with medical providers or facilities, falls squarely within that mission. As part of our mission, we seek to end the practice of “surprise billing.” We are committed to keeping patients from getting caught in the middle, receiving unexpected bills weeks later.
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Ending this practice is vital for patients and doctors. But ending it the right way is also vital to the health and vitality of our state’s medical community and the patient communities we serve. Some in Congress are promoting a fixed-rate approach to ending surprise billing that is deeply troubling to providers like my organization’s members. By setting fixed rates — and making it impossible for medical professionals and facilities to negotiate based on fair market value — such “benchmarking” could put many practitioners out of business and make it harder for patients to find high-quality care.
With access and a doctor shortage particularly impacting rural states like Wyoming, this is clearly a bad choice. A better way forward is the Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) approach, which was encapsulated in the bipartisan STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act and has been tried in New York state with very positive results for patients, doctors, hospitals and insurers alike.
Some in Congress are pushing for a fast fix to surprise billing through legislation that hurts patient access to care. it. If we really want to protect patients and doctors, IDR is the better solution. This is a critical issue that deserves full and open debate — Congress must take its time and get this right. I strongly urge our state’s entire Congressional delegation to work with their colleagues to make sure any final bill includes robust IDR provisions.
SHEILA BUSH, Executive Director for the Wyoming Medical Society, Cheyenne