News & Media

Surprise, Out-of-Network Bills Move to the Senate

Thursday, June 25, 2020

On behalf of the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) and your specialty, thank you for your help to seek appropriate amendments to the surprise, out-of-network billing legislation. Because of your advocacy efforts, the physician community was able to see a form of arbitration included in the language, and the average contracted rate is now based on geographic region and specialty. Unfortunately, the arbitration is very narrow, and the average contracted rate remains a mystery.

Among those who testified Wednesday was MSMS President S. Bobby Mukkamala, MD (Genesee); MSMS Board member Thomas George, MD (Kalamazoo); and, MSMS member and Michigan Council of Emergency Physicians President Warren Lanphear, MD (Kent). 

Julie Novak, MSMS Chief Executive Officer, issued this statement after the vote was taken late Wednesday evening: “As frontline health care workers continue to battle the impact and ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State House returned to Lansing tonight [Wednesday] to pass a bill written by health insurance companies and their executives at the expense of local physicians and their patients. The physician community stands with Michigan patients against out-of-network bills and has proposed a fair process that removes the patient from being caught in the middle, while providing for an equitable dispute resolution process. Instead, the one-sided legislation completely eliminates a physician’s ability to negotiate with the biggest insurance companies in the state. Make no mistake, physician practices will close, and patients will lose access to care as a result.”

The Votes Taken Wednesday:

HBs 4459, 4460, 4990, and 4991 moved out of House Ways and Means with 9 yes votes and 2 pass votes (Representative Warren and Griffin passed).

The bills then were moved to the House Floor and were just voted out tonight nearly unanimously. Five Representatives voted no on HB 4459, the bill we fought hardest against which contains the fee schedule and arbitration.

With so many votes in favor of the bill, that tells us that if these bills get a vote, the bills will pass. It is a very popular issue for the general public. Practically, that means we need to work hard in the next few weeks to educate members about why these bills harm health care heroes and patients; and, we will need your continued help. 

Future Advocacy:

The bills now move to the Senate and will either be referred to the Senate Insurance committee or the Senate Health Policy committee. There is a lot of work to do in the Senate in the coming weeks to educate members and make sure the physician's voice is heard. 

Over the coming weeks MSMS and our county medical society partners will build on all of your efforts and recruit more of you to join these efforts. Please, feel free to get the word out that we need more boots on the ground.

If the bills get a vote in the Senate Committee, they will then be sent to the full Senate for a vote by the 38 members of the Senate. If they pass the full Senate, they would be sent on to the Governor for signature. By no means is this fight over.

How to have the biggest impact:

As part of our advocacy efforts, we also need to build up MDPAC contributions. In addition to the time you have spent educating your elected officials, MDPAC is the greatest tool we have to make sure the physician voice is heard. If you haven’t already donated this year, a contribution of $250 today could be significant in making sure we get the attention of those who are voting to determine the future of medicine.

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