Shaheen Criticizes Firms Behind 'Surprise Medical Bill' Ads

Sep 25, 2019

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen holds up a mailer she says is meant to confuse voters, while speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday.
Credit C-Span

Senator Jeanne Shaheen says she will prioritize the needs of patients over the concerns of private equity firms.

Her remarks come in the wake of reporting by the New York Times that revealed a $28 million advertising campaign raising concerns about proposed legislation aimed at curbing "surprise medical bills" is being funded by companies that benefit from the practice. 

Shaheen is one of a group of bi-partisan lawmakers who have been targeted by the lobbying effort. She supports a measure that would end so-called surprise bills, which are generated when a patient goes to a hospital that is in their health insurance provider network but is treated by a doctor who is employed by an out-of-network company. Patients, who are not informed that they are receiving treatment from an out-of-network provider, may receive bills for tens of thousands of dollars.

“This ad campaign is not only confusing to voters,” said Shaheen during remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, “but it is ‘Exhibit A’ in how our campaign finance system is broken. And the voices of Granite Staters who are struggling to pay surprise medical bills are being drowned out in this case by private equity firms.”

Shaheen says she, along with an unknown number of Granite Staters, has received mailers at her home address warning of doctor shortages if the legislation passes.

According to the Times, two private equity firms that own physician staffing companies are funding the campaign. They contend that the solution being floated by Congress would let the government set provider rates, ultimately leading to hospital closures and loss of access to medical care.