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December 12, 2019

Congressional Committees Announce Compromise on Senate Bill 1895: Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019

On December 8, Senators Lamar Alexander and Greg Walden, and Representative Frank Pallone, Jr.  announced an agreement on legislation to lower out of pocket costs for health care. Senate Bill 1895, entitled the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019, would set a benchmark payment rate for out-of-network bills based on the median in-network rate and includes a new system for independent dispute resolution.“It is long past time that Congress protect patients and families from the devastating financial toll of surprise medical bills, and this agreement puts an end to this egregious billing practice,” said Representative Pallone, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “This agreement will make health care and prescription drugs more affordable for the American people. I’m hopeful that this bipartisan, bicameral agreement can be voted on quickly so that it can be signed into law before the end of the year.” Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Staff has also published a section-by-section analysis of the current version of SB 1895.

In a statement issued December 9, the White House expressed hope that Congress would focus on this “important issue and act this year and send legislation to the President to sign into law.” The American Medical Association is urging Congress to improve the legislation and include a “balanced approach that treats all stakeholders equally while protecting access to care.”