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Congress working on cure for high health care costs

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Americans are sick of paying high costs for health care, and Congress is working on a cure.  

On Tuesday, lawmakers met for a hearing on the Lower Health Care Costs Act, which targets nearly every area of the health care industry to save patients money.  

To repair the country’s totaled health care system, lawmakers in Washington are prescribing nearly three dozen bipartisan bills to cut costs for families.  

“Up to one half of what the American people spend on health care may be unnecessary,” said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee). 

That amounts to nearly two trillion dollars.  

On Tuesday Sen. Alexander, Washington Senator Patty Murray – and many of their colleagues on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee – heard feedback on their legislation to expand competition, increase transparency and end surprise billing. 

“You can’t lower your health care costs until you know what your health care costs actually are,” Sen. Alexander said.  

Testimony came from those representing hospitals, doctors and patients. And they all agree something needs to change, but not necessarily on what that change should be.   

“We think of the approaches the committee has talked about, that arbitration is the best one,” said American Hospital Association Executive Vice President Tom Nickels said.  

“Adopting an in-network guarantee is the best option,” American Enterprise Institute Research Fellow, Benedic Ippolito, added.  

Avoiding surprise medical bills took center stage. The proposed in-network guarantee would require in-network hospitals to ensure everyone working there is also in-network. 

Another part of the bill calls for benchmarking physician pay, but doctor and Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy cautioned his colleagues about that idea.  

“It’s easier to get doctors in Florida than it is to get doctors in Alaska so, therefore, you must pay doctors in Alaska more,” U.S. Sen. Cassidy (R-Louisiana) said.  

The conversation continues into next week before a debate on the Senate floor next month. 

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