On June 11, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health began marking-up a series of bills aimed at reducing patient out-of-pocket costs and preserving access to health care.
Specifically, the committee is considering a measure that would exempt patients from having to pay surprise medical bills in most circumstances. Surprise medical bills are bills that result from a patient unexpectedly receiving care or a service from an out-of-network provider, often during an urgent situation where neither the patient nor the provider are aware of the discrepancy.
Also being considered are several measures on prescription drug pricing and a bill extending funding for the Community Health Center Fund for four years at $4 billion annually.
A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:
“We welcome today’s committee action focused on reducing patients’ out-of-pocket health care costs and preserving access to essential health care services.
“In particular, we commend Committee Chairman, Rep. Pallone (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Walden (R-Ore.) for their bipartisan work on the issue of surprise billing. Taking the patient out of the middle of billing issues when they receive care or services that are inadvertently outside of their insurance network would provide significant relief to cancer patients, many of whom are already struggling with difficult financial circumstances. We’re pleased that this bill would provide cancer patients more certainty for their medical expenses.
“We’re also pleased to see the committee advance legislation reauthorizing and extending funding for the Community Health Center Fund. This program is essential to providing preventive services and timely care to cancer patients and their families. In fact, evidence shows those who receive care at community health centers are more likely to receive mammograms, pap smears and colorectal cancer screening than non-health center patients nationally.
“Additionally, we applaud the Committee for examining ways to address rising prescription drug prices. Drug therapies play an integral role in cancer treatment. As more innovative cancer therapies become available, greater transparency will be necessary to support better choices, lower costs, and improved care for cancer patients.
“On behalf of all cancer patients, survivors and their families, we urge Congress to continue working together to reduce health care costs and improve access to quality health care services.”