On Wednesday the Society submitted comments to the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee on its discussion draft of the Lower Health Care Costs Act (LHCCA). It should be noted that Senator Tammy Baldwin is a member of this committee, providing the Society with a special opportunity to weigh in. The LHCCA is a bipartisan bill that seeks to address issues related to surprise billing, prescription drug prices, cost transparency, public health and health data. This situation is unique in that most bills are not put out for public comment prior to there being a final draft.
The bulk of the Society’s comments focused on the issue of surprise billing and narrow networks. The Society laid out a series of principles for eliminating surprise billing and commented that surprise billing is a result of the increase of narrow networks. The Society calls on Congress to level the playing field for physicians by incentivizing insurers to negotiate in good-faith with physicians. The Society further commented that narrow networks are not in the best interest of patients as they decrease access to high-quality care.
Regarding the issues of prescription cost and transparency, the Society was largely supportive of the provisions of the bill which would reduce costs, increase access, streamline the Food and Drug Administration approval process and increase transparency. The Society highlighted concerns that any efforts surrounding transparency should not increase physician burden, reduce competition or restrict patient access. The public health provisions of the LHCCA contained grants for improving maternal health outcomes, training and new technology. It also contained provisions to increase awareness about vaccines and their benefits for public health which were resoundingly supported by the Society.
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