No Surprises Act Arbitration Drives Up Health Care Prices, Report Says

A new report by Brookings Institution researchers concludes that the No Surprises Act, the 2020 law that banned surprise medical billing, may cause prices — and consequently premiums — to increase, even though policymakers hoped the law would slow or reverse price growth. The report also concludes that a small group of providers, particularly physician staffing groups owned by private equity entities, are responsible for most of the price increases.

This unintended consequence raises the stakes of ongoing litigation between the Texas Medical Association (TMA) and the Biden administration. Those lawsuits challenge regulations governing the NSA-created, HHS-backed arbitration process, called Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR), which resolves balance billing disputes between payers and providers when patients unintentionally receive out-of-network care. The TMA and other provider groups have successfully sued multiple times to block IDR rulemaking that many experts believe would have kept price growth in check.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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