Senate HELP Committee Marks Up Legislation to Lower Health Costs

Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions marked up S.1895, the “Lower Health Care Costs Act,” introduced by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Washington). The legislation passed out of the committee by a vote of 20-3.

The Big “I” previously joined other producer groups in commenting on the legislation, which includes five sections that would address surprise medical billing, reduce the prices of prescription drugs, create more transparency, boost public health and improve the exchange of health IT. Regarding surprise medical billing, the legislation would cap the pay physicians, hospitals and air ambulances can collect for out-of-network care.

Notably, the transparency section includes a provision (Sec. 308) that would require disclosure of direct and indirect compensation for brokers and consultants to employer-sponsored health plans and enrollees in plans in the individual market. The Big “I” submitted comments before the hearing focused on this section.

While the Big “I” appreciates the committee’s work on surprise medical billing, we will continue our dialogue with committee leadership to improve the section that would require disclosure of direct and indirect compensation for agents to make any requirements workable and practical.

Wyatt Stewart is Big “I” senior director of federal government affairs.