When Congress returns to Washington, D.C. from its August recess, health care legislation will be one of their top agenda items. This is not surprising to residents of Nevada, who have seen headline after headline about out-of-control health care costs.
There are a number of bills under consideration – all trying to tackle a health care system in desperate need of fixing. Two of these pieces of proposed legislation, the Site-based Invoicing and Transparency Enhancement (SITE) Act in the Senate and the Facilitating Accountability in Reimbursements (FAIR) Act in the House, focus on both fair, transparent medical billing and fixing runaway Medicare costs, of particular note to seniors here in the Silver State.
Here’s what’s happening: Medicare’s current billing structure allows for overcharges for health care services delivered at private practices that have been acquired by larger hospital systems. These higher rates are charged for the exact same services, like basic, preventative care, that had previously been offered by the private practice.
The unexpected, marked up health care costs can be a burden for many, especially seniors on a fixed income. And the burden extends well beyond consumers. It's estimated that taxpayers overpay approximately $40 billion in costs because of this unfair billing structure.
The SITE Act proposes to fix the issue by requiring Medicare to pay the same amount for the same services – regardless of where the care was received. The legislation would not only save our health care system money, but would also help seniors across the country access the care they need at a price they can afford.
The bill is backed by both Republicans and Democrats, too. “Our bipartisan bill takes on the health care industry to eliminate unfair fees, lower costs for patients, and save taxpayer dollars – and then we use those savings to invest in the health care workforce,” stated Senator Hassan (D-NH), one of the bill’s sponsors, when the bill was introduced. “Lowering health care costs for Americans is a bipartisan priority, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense bill.”
The SITE Act has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, of which Nevada Senator Cortez Masto is a member.
The Senate returns to work on September 5th.