WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Coalition Against Rate-Setting (CARS) urged Congress to keep the next Coronavirus relief bill clean and reject any attempts by lawmakers to institute rate-setting (price controls) as a way to “fix” surprise medical billing. Surprise medical billing occurs when patients discharged from an in-network hospital receive an out-of-network bill from an attending doctor. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) have indicated their willingness to insert rate-setting into the next relief bill to address this issue, despite well-documented evidence on the harms of healthcare price controls. CARS, a nationwide coalition of free market and consumer groups has doubled in membership from 14 in January to 29 today.
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Speaker of the House Minority Leader
United States House of Reps United States House of Reps
Washington, D.C. 20515 Washington, D.C. 20515
Cc: Rep. Steny Hoyer; Rep. Steve Scalise; Rep. Frank Pallone; Rep. Virginia Foxx; Rep. Bobby Scott; Chief of Staﬀ Mark Meadows
We, the undersigned 27 groups, representing millions of taxpayers, consumers and seniors across the United States, urge you to oppose proposed policies that would cripple our healthcare system and place onerous government price controls on doctors.
As we face the greatest challenge this country has witnessed in many generations, now more than ever it is essential that policies are enacted that put patients and doctors ﬁrst. At a time when we need to ensure the needs of healthcare professionals are being met, it is deeply disturbing that special interest groups are still seeking to promote legislation which will short change our frontline medical workers and lead to reduced accessibility to healthcare through the nationwide consolidation of healthcare facilities.
Proposals with “rate-setting” (price controls) are designed to address “surprise billing,” but would have bureaucrats micromanaging the relationships between patients and their doctors and force physicians to accept government mandated price controls on the cost of their procedures. Rate-setting would actually make the problem worse and set the stage for even narrower insurance networks. Calls to have the federal government dictate prices and reimbursements paid to providers will do nothing to address this pressing problem and will only leave patients with fewer choices at a @me of unprecedented chaos in the healthcare system. Rate-setting would result in a whole host of negative consequences, particularly for healthcare in rural areas. More than 100 rural hospitals have shut their doors over the past ten years and driving physician reimbursements even lower would hamper care even more for COVID-19 patients.
Rate-setting has already been tried in California. The result has been nothing short of disastrous, leading to shortages of doctors and fewer choices for patients across the Golden State. Care access complaints are up nearly 50 percent in California since the introduction of rate-setting and doctors are openly contemplating leaving the state altogether. Rolling out such a policy out nationally would multiply these problems at a time when doctors and patients have enough to worry about. This ﬂawed rate-setting approach continues to be advanced and advocated for by some members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and the House Education & Labor Committee. Despite these misguided calls for price-ﬁxing, we urge you to pay heed to the struggles of millions of healthcare workers at such a diﬃcult time and oppose any and all rate-setting proposals.
As you continue to consider further legislative responses to help those aﬀected by COVID-19, we strongly urge you to reject further government interference in the healthcare system and instead focus on policies that will help the countless doctors risking their own lives to save the lives of others.
Along with 26 others.
“Doctors and nurses are on the front lines risking their lives treating COVID-19 patients, and now, lawmakers want to cut their pay by mandating onerous price controls. While thousands of Americans are suffering from the worst pandemic in more than 100 years, Sen. Alexander and Rep. Walden want to give Washington, D.C bureaucrats more control over healthcare decisions.”
David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
“Government benchmarking of hospital and physician fees equates to price controls. The federal government could establish arbitrarily low rates for doctors providing out-of-network care by insisting these payments reflect insurers greatly discounted in-network average. The losses physicians and hospitals experience a result of benchmarking would be passed onto community hospitals and emergency departments, financially depressing these facilities, particularly in rural areas where there is very little room between profitability and liability.”
Bob Carlstom, President, AMAC Action
“Proposed surprise billing measures would hurt doctors across the country, particularly in rural areas, who are already fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic, while benefiting big insurance companies. America needs creative, free-market solutions for surprise billing that is not based on a complex, harmful government scheme of rate-setting.”
Jessica Anderson, Executive Director, Heritage Action
“Price fixing as a so-called ‘solution’ to surprise medical billing will lead to a shortage of medical professionals and therefore less access for patients, especially vulnerable populations like seniors, families with children, and people in underserved communities. Forcing sick and injured patients into a situation that can devastate their entire family’s financial stability will only worsen the current problem.”
Mario Lopez, President, Hispanic Leadership Fund
“Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that politicians continue to use a very real crisis to push their pet legislation or projects. The price controls proposed as a ‘fix’ to so-called ‘surprise billing’ are no exception. In a time of crisis, more than ever, we need to let markets work for the healthcare of all Americans. Ratesetting is the opposite.”
Jason Pye, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, FreedomWorks
“The facts are clear: Government rate-setting or price controls never work as intended and invariably lead to shortages and less innovation. Amid the current coronavirus pandemic, now is the worst possible time to mandate a counterproductive rate-setting scheme that would most harm the vital healthcare professionals on the front lines of this fight.”
Jeff Mazzella, President, Center for Individual Freedom
“These are trying times for Americans who are concerned about their health, their jobs and their civil liberties. Now is not the time for cynical gamesmanship by partisans and ideologues who want to advance their agenda of price controls under the guise of responding to a national crisis. Price controls are not an effective response to surprise medical billing. Price controls usher in a de facto form of socialized medicine and should be resisted at every turn.”
Jim Martin, Founder/Chairman, 60 Plus Association
“National rate-setting is a pathway to socialized medicine. You don’t have to believe me, this is what House Democrat Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone told the House Progressive Caucus. It would be a tragic mistake to incorporate policies within any additional stimulus package which shifts cost burdens to the very health professionals we are all depending upon in this fight against the COVID-19 virus.”
Rick Manning, President, Americans for Limited Government
“Price controls lead to scarcity and rationing. The last thing we need less of right now is critical first responders.”
Ryan Ellis, President, Center for a Free Economy