The right way to make sure patients don’t get stuck paying surprise medical bills

Independent arbitration is the best way to resolve billing disputes, not a law that lets insurance companies decide how much to pay.

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Medical billing

Medical billing.

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The balance of power between patients, doctors and big insurance companies is completely out of whack. The insurers call all the shots. They decide what’s “in-network” and “out-of-network,” what’s covered and isn’t, and how much they’ll reimburse patients, doctors and hospitals.

The less insurance companies cover and pay, the more money they make. It’s that simple. That’s why we’ve seen such a spike in surprise medical billing.Insurers are sticking patients with the bill rather than reimbursing care by out-of-network hospitals and doctors. Patients are being threatened with medical bankruptcy by companies making record profits. It’s outrageous!

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Now the big insurers are trying to pass legislation in Congress that would let them set the rates they pay to out-of-network hospitals and doctors. They’ve spent more than $70 million lobbying lawmakers for legislation they call a solution to surprise medical billing. It isn’t. It would give insurance companies the ability to lowball providers and pocket more money. The proposal is so egregious it could undermine the long-term economic viability of hospitals and doctors.

Congress can’t let this happen — and they shouldn’t fall for false compromises that are just rate setting in disguise. The real solution is independent dispute resolution. It protects patients. It’s proven. And it’s fair. It takes patients out of medical disputes, allowing hospitals and doctors to use independent arbitration to negotiate disputed medical bills.

This is the way forward. Big insurance companies don’t deserve any more power to fleece their customers.

Lauren M. Lanham, RN, Division of Neurosciences, Neurosurgery, Rush University Medical Center

Bike lanes create congestion

Blaming ride shares for congestion to justify a taxhas about as much merit as claiming red light and speed camera fines are about safety.The addition of ride-share vehicles is offset by the taxis they have displaced.

A simple solution to reduce vehicle congestions is to get rid of the bikeand bus lanes that are a major factor. Case in point: Broadway south of Foster.Traffic flowed much better before traffic lanes were reduced to accommodate barely used bike lanes.

Earl Weiss, Uptown

The socialist label

Labels can be misleading. Anything or anyone labeled as socialist is branded as un-American, while some very American programs escape that label even though it applies to them.

Socialists in this country no doubt endorse Social Security and Medicare. Aren’t those programs also popular with “purer” Americans? Bernie Sanders, an avowed “Democratic Socialist,” is not my first choice in his party’s often self-defeating competition to dethrone Donald Trump. That’s only because a couple of his major policies, while appealing, do not have a practical chance to be enacted.

Yet when it comes to the critical matter of campaigning, a rare Trump skill, Sanders is the one Democrat who could match the president. In a debate, after Trump has attacked him as a socialist, Bernie could fire back with the label argument. accusing Trump of trying to pay for his expensive rich man’s tax plan by cutting Democratic Socialist programs known as Social Security and Medicare.

Ed Stone, Northbrook

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