WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 20, 2020 — Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization dedicated to building longer, healthier lives, issued the following statement in response to reports that bipartisan language to end surprise medical bills is included in Congress’ year-end legislative package:
“This legislation includes a major breakthrough for patients looking for relief from surprise medical bills and the financial burden they impose on families already straining under the weight of an ongoing pandemic. The bipartisan agreement shields patients from bills for medical services and removes patients from payment disputes between providers and insurers. Patients nationwide have been waiting for years for legal protection from financially devastating surprise bills, and now relief is in sight. We look forward to working with Congress to monitor implementation and further strengthen protections for patients.”
Surprise bills are a major driver of financial anxiety and disruption for families nationwide that are already straining under the weight of an ongoing pandemic. Nearly half (49%) of U.S. adults say worrying about an unexpected medical bill keeps them from seeking care, and a similar proportion (44%) say if they received an unexpected medical bill for $1,000 they would not have the money to pay for it, according to a public opinion survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Heart Association.
The survey found that two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults with private health insurance have received an unexpected medical bill, and of those, one in three (33%) were not able to pay the bill with money immediately available to them. Among those with private insurance who did not have money available, nearly one in four (23%) say they have yet to pay the bill.
The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization focused on heart and brain health, has waged a grassroots advocacy campaign urging patients nationwide to share their experiences with surprise bills, using the hashtag #IWasBilled. The Association also has been mobilizing advocates through its nationwide You’re the Cure grassroots network to call and email their members of Congress about the urgent need to stop surprise medical bills.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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