In a letter to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on the No Surprises Act, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons reiterated its opposition to using government-set payment benchmarks for handling surprise medical bill disputes, warning against the economic viability of such an approach. The letter also urged Congress to support a fair arbitration process.
“If physicians lose the ability to fairly negotiate or suddenly have their value tied to a market basket for consumer goods, they will be forced to leave geographic areas with a mandated rate insufficient for covering costs,” Kristy L. Weber, MD, president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said in a press release. “The [Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers] CPI-U can’t keep up with new technology or the dynamic medical costs of innovation. Like any benchmark, it would threaten not only the independent practice of medicine but also patient access during a time when choice and competition are increasingly limited.”
As stated by the AAOS in its letter to the subcommittee, the only way to protect patients from out-of-network surprise medical bills while preserving a fair playing field for resolving payment disputes is by allowing for arbitration. The recently introduced Protecting People from Surprise Medical Bill Act incorporates this approach, according to the release, and addresses narrow, inadequate health insurance networks as the source of the problem.
“The AAOS remains committed to fighting for a policy solution that incorporates arbitration and implores Congress to follow suit, carefully considering the unintended consequences of government price-setting,” Weber said. “Our physicians, patients and the entire health care system are relying on its leadership.”