For Immediate Release
December 22, 2020
Statement Attributable to:
Bonnie Litvack, MD
President, Medical Society of the State of New York
Year End COVID-19 Package: Congressional Hits and Misses
“The end-of-year package agreed to by Congress contains some positive measures, including a new round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program that assisted many community-based physician practices on the verge of closure earlier this year due to historic drops in patient visits. Also important are provisions to ensure the continued ability to deduct certain essential business expenses for those who receive these loans, and provisions to help reduce though not eliminate the very steep Medicare cuts countless physicians will face for delivering health care services to their patients in 2021.
“Regarding the surprise medical billing dispute resolution component of this package, we have long supported efforts to add additional federal protections to help prevent patients from receiving these unexpected bills. However, while the final version contains slight improvements from earlier versions, it does not address our fundamental concern we have repeatedly raised that the dispute resolution mechanism to resolve insurer-physician differences is greatly tilted in favor of health insurance companies. Health insurers will be permitted to present data as to the appropriate cost of the health care services while physicians for all practical purposes will not be permitted to offer their own data.
“This is grossly unfair, and inconsistent with New York’s far more balanced approach to addressing surprise medical bills for patients insured under state-regulated plans. With this new, even greater leverage, we are very concerned that health insurers will take advantage to dramatically cut payments for their network participating physicians at a time when community physician practices are already at the edge of extinction due to a variety of factors. More forced employment arrangements are inevitable, furthering reducing competition in health care delivery and driving up costs.
“We thank the efforts of the many members of the New York Congressional Delegation who have worked diligently to improve many of these provisions from earlier versions. However, the bottom line remains that this year-end Congressional package does as much harm as good to our front-line physicians who have put their health and their families’ health at risk this year to ensure their patients receive the care they need.”
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Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.
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