ACR sues to block No Surprises Act

2020 07 01 22 14 2802 Washington Dc Capitol 400

The American College of Radiology (ACR) and other physician groups have filed a lawsuit against the federal government to block parts of the No Surprises Act, which is set to take effect January 1, 2022.

The ACR joined the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) in filing a lawsuit December 22 in federal district court in Chicago. The groups charge that the interim final rule on surprise medical billing goes against the language of the No Surprises Act itself and will ultimately harm patients and access to care.

"The conscious decision by the White House to ignore the specific legislative language and intent of the No Surprises Act as the new law is implemented has empowered insurers to drastically cut reimbursement, narrow medical networks and restrict patient access to their chosen providers -- including radiologists," the ACR said in a statement.

The No Surprises Act was designed to protect patients from receiving large medical bills from a physician or facility that does not participate in their insurance plan. It was to provide a mechanism whereby the providers could receive a payment from insurers that reflects a reasonable market price, with a dispute resolution process to be used when the parties were too far apart to reach an agreement.

But the ACR and other advocacy groups have warned since the legislation was drafted that insurance companies could use the law as leverage to terminate existing agreements with providers who had negotiated high fee schedules and force them into lower-rate contracts.

That is what is beginning to happen, the ACR said.

"With this harmful regulation due to take effect January 1, we have little choice but to protect patient access to care by taking legal action," said ACR Board of Chancellors chair Dr. Howard Fleishon in the college's statement.

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