President Trump on Wednesday spoke out against surprise medical bills that patients often cannot afford, highlighting an issue that has received bipartisan concern in Congress.
“The health care system too often harms people with some unfair surprises … medical bills and the like,” Trump said at a roundtable at the White House, along with patients who had received unexpectedly large bills from hospitals.
“We’re going to stop all of it, and it’s very important to me,” Trump added.
Cracking down on surprise medical bills is seen as a rare area of possible bipartisan action on health care. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) unveiled bipartisan legislation to end surprise medical bills in September, and Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) has legislation on the topic as well.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) also has a bill in the House to crack down on the practice.
Trump spoke of patients who “go in, they have a procedure, and then all of a sudden they can’t afford it, they had no idea it was so bad.”
He said his vision is for patients to know “exactly what the cost is” before they receive care.
Several stories of patients who landed surprise medical bills have gotten widespread attention and helped galvanize calls for action in recent months.
For example, in August, NPR reported on a teacher in Texas who got a bill for $108,951 from the hospital for care for his heart attack, even after his insurer had paid $55,840.
The details of any proposal to end practices like this will be closely watched by health care industry groups, who will be examining whether insurers or hospitals are asked to bear more of the brunt of the cost of picking up the tab instead of patients.