On June 8, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent proposed regulations limiting surprise billing to the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”).  The proposed regulations would implement the bipartisan No Surprises Act, which was enacted as part of a 2020 appropriations act.  OMB must review the proposed regulations before they can be issued by HHS.

The No Surprise Act limits unanticipated bills for medical treatment obtained from non-network providers in an emergency situation or in non-emergent situations by ancillary out-of-network providers such as anesthesiologists who treat a patient in a network facility.  The law requires that billing disputes between providers and insurance companies be settled through binding arbitration, which may not take into account rates for care provided under government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.  Instead, arbiters may use other factors when settling rate disputes, such as the median contracted rate for the service, the provider’s training and expertise, and the severity of the patient’s condition.

HHS plans to issue drafts of the new surprise billing regulations on July 1, 2021.