LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Louisianans need sensible Surprise Billing fix

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 30, 2019

As a health professional, I have seen the devastating effects to family finances from catastrophic medical emergencies. I have seen families driven into bankruptcy and foreclosure of their homes to pay for “surprise medical billing events.”

But I also share a personal perspective: Six weeks ago, my husband was catastrophically injured in a vehicle accident. He was so injured that survival was not a possibility. Even so, he was airlifted, without any family authorization, to a medical center where he died without regaining consciousness.

This is the essence of a surprise medical situation. Subsequently, I was notified by the hospital of a $45,000 emergency room bill, which was eventually waived; however, the air flight company holds an outstanding bill against our home of $47,000. The entire event has used all of his pension and savings.

Surprise medical billing happens to ordinary families, but usually for bills under $1000. And it most cases, it is still catastrophic.

A legislative solution to end surprise billing is being proposed by our own U.S. Senator Dr. Bill Cassidy, and is now before Congressman Steve Scalise in the House.  This process known as Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) offers an open, transparent negotiation process for providers and insurers to settle out-of-network payment issues. It separates patients and their families from these billing disputes, but helps ensure payments are fair and based on the true cost of care.

Since I am a nurse, and have trained so many in the Deep South, I know this is important for all involved in the healthcare process. We must act for the good of families in jeopardy and support Dr. Cassidy’s IDR solution. I know of what I speak as a provider of services…and now as a widow burdened with my own surprise medical bill.

Dr. Kathleen C. Quinn is the Chief Healthcare Officer of Discovery Psychotherapy and Integrative Healthcare Centers, and the National Sexual Trauma Center; She is holds a doctorate in Marriage and Family Psychotherapy; she is an Advanced Practice Nurse and trains nurses in women’s health at several universities in the Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. 

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