On Tuesday, House GOP lawmakers pressed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on a number of topics including reproductive health services, gender-affirming care, and migrant children.
Becerra was called in to testify about the Biden administration’s FY 2024 budget before the House Ways and Means Committee and a House Appropriations subcommittee. During the hearing, he was also called to defend the administration’s implementation of Trump-era legislation that would block surprise billing.
In the two hearings, Becerra was asked by lawmakers about the No Surprises Act, which was passed by Congress to provide protection against unexpected medical charges when they are receiving care from a physician or facility that is not within their insurance network. Under this new law, mediators are available to help with billing disputes to determine how much the out-of-network providers and payers will need to pay.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), who was also a podiatric physician, during the Ways and Means Committee hearing, stated that the bill had been created to incentivize doctors to want to participate in a network, and for insurance companies to similarly want to have doctors in their networks. He continued to say that the law was then implemented in a way that “unfairly tips the scales in favor of insurers,” defying the written law.
However, Becerra argued that the administration had been operating within the law and had simply been overwhelmed by the volume of payment disputes.