Washington, DC — Ted L. Anderson, MD, PhD, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), issued the following statement about federal legislation to address surprise medical bills:
“ACOG believes that patients should be protected from unanticipated medical bills for care provided by an out-of-network physician. This problem can extend beyond patients receiving unexpected care in the emergency setting, also impacting patients who have received expected care, such as childbirth or surgery, from a care team that includes an out-of-network provider. We understand that patients are not always able to choose an in-network provider. For example, in situations in which care is provided by an out-of-network provider in an in-network setting, patients should not be punished financially for circumstances beyond their control. After all, women who have recently had a child should be able to focus on their growing family and their own health and well-being, rather than burdensome out-of-pocket costs.
“Surprise billing can interfere with the patient-physician relationship. We believe that in order to protect the patient-physician relationship, patients should be absolved from any payment disputes that arise between physicians and insurers related to out-of-network care. However, we also must ensure that physicians receive fair compensation for the quality care they provide, and that patients do not face network inadequacy or limitations in access to care. To that end, we support an independent dispute resolution process, such as the proven model in place in New York State. This model enables a neutral third party to evaluate the many variables associated with each case to reach a fair agreement between physicians and insurers that reflects the complexity of the case, the experience of the physician, and the reasonable rate charged in that geographic area.
“We thank Members of Congress, particularly the physicians in Congress, for their attention to this complex situation and look forward to the refinement and enactment of legislation that both protects patients and ensures the financial sustainability of physician practices.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, ACOG strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. www.acog.org