SEVERE WX : Wind Advisory View Alerts

Senate moves forward with first bipartisan health care plan

A key Senate committee passed a sweeping, bipartisan bill Wednesday, marking the chamber's first effort to address several major health care issues plaguing...

Posted: Jun 27, 2019 3:58 AM
Updated: Jun 27, 2019 4:09 AM

A key Senate committee passed a sweeping, bipartisan bill Wednesday, marking the chamber's first effort to address several major health care issues plaguing the nation.

The Senate Health Committee voted 20-3 to advance the legislation, which seeks to tackle surprise medical billing, lower drug prices and increase transparency in the cost of health care. The bill was cosponsored by the committee's chair, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and ranking member, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state.

Also included is a provision sponsored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, and Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, that would raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21, from 18.

Alexander and Murray hope the full chamber will vote on the bill before the August recess.

The legislation is not without controversy. Hospitals and doctors are not pleased with the surprise medical billing provision, which would protect patients when they receive emergency care at hospitals or by doctors who aren't in their insurance networks. Consumers would be responsible only for paying the in-network rates for that treatment and, if they are admitted, they must be given advanced notice of any out-of-network charges, under the legislation.

To settle the rest of the tab, insurers would pay hospitals and doctors the local median contracted rate. Providers say this could wind up limiting access to care and could limit insurers' incentive to build comprehensive networks.

"This bill solves the immediate problem for patients, but the unintended consequences of rate setting will lead to more narrow networks and a precedent of government interference in free market negotiations," said Chip Kahn, chief executive of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents for-profit facilities.

The American Medical Association says there should be a process to resolve disputes, such as an independent arbitrator -- an option the committee considered but ultimately rejected.

The legislation also seeks to make it easier for lower-cost generic drugs to come to market and bans certain practices by providers and insurers that could raise prices for consumers

The Senate Health Committee's legislation is one of several efforts to address high health care costs being formulated on Capitol Hill.

The Senate Finance Committee is also crafting bipartisan legislation aimed at lowering drug prices in Medicare and Medicaid, with the goal of holding a vote before the August recess.

The House, meanwhile, has passed several measures to spur the development of generic drugs and is working on legislation to address surprise billing.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 345344

Reported Deaths: 4084
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah54651678
Washington37724310
Marion35705439
Clackamas28835298
Lane26661291
Jackson22465297
Deschutes19252122
Umatilla14081139
Linn12200114
Douglas11664238
Josephine9174191
Yamhill8438108
Klamath7549106
Polk707380
Malheur542374
Benton521531
Coos481591
Columbia368143
Jefferson355650
Union309944
Lincoln306033
Wasco275839
Crook263643
Clatsop238027
Baker195628
Tillamook191926
Hood River186036
Morrow180223
Curry177019
Harney106424
Grant96512
Lake86910
Wallowa65712
Gilliam1484
Sherman1453
Wheeler941
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4802761

Reported Deaths: 70456
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147341026379
Riverside3689534978
San Diego3631694151
San Bernardino3558485562
Orange3224975513
Sacramento1574982273
Santa Clara1443001886
Fresno1437452048
Kern1437161600
Alameda1197741365
San Joaquin1016431696
Ventura1004421162
Contra Costa99102969
Stanislaus849231310
Tulare78753945
San Francisco53974644
San Mateo53781618
Monterey50676582
Solano45734334
Santa Barbara44770518
Merced41680577
Sonoma40638400
Placer38813412
Imperial35591762
Kings32197312
San Luis Obispo29590330
Madera23420281
Butte23298257
Shasta23230334
Santa Cruz20830217
Yolo20092247
Marin17570243
El Dorado16947149
Sutter13762169
Napa12797100
Yuba992780
Tehama9240103
Humboldt9085108
Nevada902590
Mendocino751686
Lassen743743
San Benito735972
Tuolumne671793
Lake6499103
Amador536763
Siskiyou442742
Glenn429930
Calaveras380279
Del Norte355739
Colusa301618
Inyo194239
Mono16285
Plumas15476
Mariposa126215
Trinity85811
Modoc6678
Sierra1710
Unassigned1480
Alpine1020
Out of CA00
Medford
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 58°
Brookings
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 49°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
58° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 58°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
58° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 58°
Klamath Falls
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 42°
Big changes later this weekend
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events