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Every time we turn on the television or pick up our phones to see the latest headlines, there is news about the COVID-19 outbreak.
Doctors and caregivers are on the frontlines, doing what they have been trained to do while at the same time, putting themselves at risk. They recognize their own health risk, but they also believe in the commitment they made to help others.
There is inherent danger for doctors every day they put on their white coat, but as this outbreak spreads, their important work to save lives and limit contagion along with their personal sacrifices are at the top of our mind.
March 30 is National Doctors’ Day and, honestly, it couldn’t come at a better time.
We should all take a moment to thank the doctors we know — thank them for their work and their sacrifice. Congress could also do something important for doctors, not to mention patients, at this time as well.
As bad as coronavirus is, could you imagine how bad it would be if we had fewer doctors, fewer emergency rooms, or fewer hospitals? We’re far from being out of the woods regarding this outbreak but it’s clear that we need every single health care professional and facility functioning at full capacity, not less.
Unfortunately, the insurance companies continue to push for legislation that would use rate setting as a response to surprise medical bills. Rate setting gives insurers the unilateral power to cancel contracts. That leads to doctor shortages, hospital closures and narrower insurance networks for patients.
Rate setting means patients could have a harder time seeing a doctor when they need one and paying more money out of their own pockets for care. It’s hard to believe, but just as the coronavirus is unfolding, one of the country’s largest insurance companies canceled its contracts with doctors in Washington state. In the state at the center of the coronavirus calamity, big insurers made their bottom line profits a higher priority than public health.
We need to solve the problem of surprise medical billing. Staying healthy and getting care if needed should be the only thought patients consider — now or anytime — not whether they will get a big out-of-network surprise bill. Any legislation that is pitched as a fix to this issue but hurts patients, closes hospitals and leads to doctor shortages is not a solution to surprise medical billing.
It’s the last thing we need right now.
Congress should reject rate setting in any form, protect patient access to care and stop surprise medical bills with meaningful IDR like the bill introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy.
Congress could take it up right now, pass the bill, restore trust and give a win to the American people at a time when we could all use it.
Virginia Crossland Macha is the vice president of the Kansas Republican Party.