In my time serving in the Maine House, I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the health care concerns facing our state. Without a doubt, surprise medical billing is a serious problem for Mainers— and it deserves a serious solution. No one should be forced into the middle of a billing dispute between insurance companies and health care providers, least of all vulnerable patients who have already been through so much.

However, in solving for surprise medical billing — a practice in which patients are hit with unexpected medical bills for care they thought would be covered by their insurance plan — Congress must not implement any legislation that would jeopardize our hospitals, emergency rooms, and other vital health care centers.

Unfortunately, some of the solutions in Congress would do just that by putting the federal government in control of determining rates paid to doctors. This approach — known as benchmarking — would be a disaster for Maine’s local hospitals and economies. By letting the government set these prices, benchmarking would result in billions of dollars in financial losses for local hospitals, potentially forcing these facilities to close or consolidate, further undermining access to care and weakening local economies.

Instead of benchmarking, the Maine congressional delegation should throw their full support behind Independent Dispute Resolution, an approach taken in other legislation currently being considered by Congress. Independent Dispute Resolution would implement a fair, transparent negotiation process between insurers and providers while ensuring financial stability for our local hospitals and emergency departments.

That is the best way to end surprise billing without threatening access to care or the economic vitality of Maine communities.

Deb Sanderson

Chelsea

(The writer is a former Republican member of the Maine House of Representatives.)


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