Letter to the editor: Wrong approach on surprise bills

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Federal COVID-19 relief efforts have helped many small businesses survive, but our health-care workers remain hard hit. In April, more than 1.4 million lost their jobs. While many health-care workers have been on the front lines in the fight against the pandemic, many other doctors and nurses have struggled to make ends meet. Elective procedures and treatments have been postponed and canceled, drying up revenue.

Now, Congress is threatening to hit our doctors and nurses with a financial double whammy: some proponents of government-run health care propose to “fix” a real problem — surprise medical bills, which can be financially devastating when a patient unknowingly obtains care out-of-network — with price controls (rate-fixing) on medical providers.

Congress needs to say no. Surprise medical billing is a real problem, but rate-fixing is no way to fix the problem.

Rate-fixing forces medical providers to perform treatments and procedures at arbitrary prices set by bureaucrats, typically well below market rates. It’s big government at its worst. Alternatives exist. Several states have successfully experimented with independent dispute resolution, a form of arbitration, as a fix for surprise billings.

Rate-fixing is always bad economics, but it is particularly injurious at a time when our health-care workers most deserve our support and when many of them are struggling to keep their operations afloat.

Colorado’s congressional delegation, particularly Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, should lead the way toward a market-oriented solution to the surprise medical billing problem.

Renee Anderson

Highlands Ranch

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