Because after winning the primary, and the general, Ways and Means Chairman Neal is blocking surprise medical billing legislation, because he is owned by the hedge funds who have purchased medical practices, particularly emergency medicine practices, across the country to profit from massively overcharging people in emergency rooms:
A broad bipartisan effort to pass legislation protecting patients from massive “surprise” medical bills is now on life support as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) digs in on a separate proposal.
Democratic and Republican leaders of three committees in the House and Senate have been pushing for months to pass their measure, which would prevent Americans from unexpectedly getting hit with medical bills for thousands of dollars for common scenarios like treatment from a doctor outside their insurance network when they require emergency care.
Neal has been holding out for his own rival proposal and has not shown any willingness to budge despite concessions offered by top lawmakers on the three committees.
Supporters say they are extremely frustrated with Neal, given that lawmakers have been working on a bipartisan basis for two years to solve an issue many view as an especially egregious practice that should be low-hanging fruit for Congress. Lawmakers tried to pass the measure last December, but disagreements with Neal derailed the measure.
All sides agree that patients should be protected from getting massive medical bills through no fault of their own. But fierce divisions have emerged over how much the insurer would then pay the doctor or hospital once the patient is taken out of the middle.
The three committees — House Energy and Commerce, House Education and Labor and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions — have in general favored an approach called benchmarking, which sets the payment rate based on the median amount that insurers in that area already pay in-network doctors. That approach is backed by insurers, unions and consumer groups who say it will save both consumers and the government more money than Neal’s proposal.
Hospitals and doctors, on the other hand, warn that would lead to damaging payment cuts. They favor an alternative process where an outside arbiter would decide the payment, through arbitration. That’s the approach proposed by Neal and Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas), the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, with Neal touting the support of hospital groups.
Backers of the three-committee approach say they offered a range of concessions to Neal, including one that only used Neal’s preferred method — arbitration — but he still did not agree.
The fierce lobbying from powerful doctor and hospital groups has caused further problems. Private equity firms that own doctor staffing companies previously funded millions of dollars in ads against the three-committee legislation.
Surprise billing became an issue in Neal’s primary race earlier this year; his progressive challenger, Alex Morse, [Against whom Neal and the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) ran a viciously homophobic campaign] accused him of blocking surprise billing legislation because the private equity firm Blackstone is a major contributor to Neal. Neal ended up handily defeating Morse before going on to win reelection to Congress, where he has served since 1989.
Neal is now saying he wants to again delay the issue until next year, which backers of the three-committee approach take as a sign that he does not want to address the issue at all and is trying to delay it indefinitely.
Of course he is trying to delay it indefinitely.
He sees his job as to ensure that Blackstone and their Evil Minions™ get their vigorish so that he gets his campaign donations.