Newswise — Today, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), representing more than 54,000 members, expressed serious concerns with the surprise medical bills legislation released by the House Education and Labor Committee as drafted. The Society expresses strong support for amendments to address the bill’s pro-insurer orientation.

“While we agree that immediate action is needed to protect patients from surprise medical bills, any solution must safeguard patients while also ensuring a responsible solution fair to both insurers and providers,” said ASA President Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., MSCHA, FACHE, FASA.  “Unfortunately, the proposal released by the Education and Labor Committee includes several concerning provisions, including an inaccessible independent dispute resolution process and reliance on a payment benchmark.  This latest proposal would harm physician practices who are making every effort to do right by their patients in contracting with insurance companies to maintain ‘in-network’ status.”

ASA has grave concerns about the impact of the legislation on physician practices. ASA believes the approach outlined in the legislation will weaken physician practices across the country with massive payment cuts, while also penalizing physicians who are actually ‘in-network.’  Currently, more than 90 percent of physician anesthesiologists’ claims are in-network.  ASA encourages the Committee to adopt changes to create a more equitable payment mechanism.

“The legislation released by the House Education and Labor Committee should be improved by strengthening the independent dispute resolution process to be balanced and accessible, and by fixing the payment benchmark so access to care is ensured, especially in rural and underserved communities” said Dr. Peterson. “Absent significant changes, ASA remains deeply troubled by the proposal as outlined.”