Tell Congress: Protect Patients, Not Health Plans
By Steve Levine


Our U.S. senators and representatives are back home in Texas for the August recess, and Texas Medical Association President David Fleeger, MD, says their physician-constituents need to share two key words with them while they’re hear: Ruiz and Roe. 

“Now is the time you can buttonhole them to make sure they stop the surprise medical billing epidemic in a way that helps our patients – not the big insurance companies,” Dr. Fleeger wrote in an email to TMA physicians and TMA Alliance members. “Please call, write, visit, or email Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and your U.S. representative – or contact them via social media – as soon as you can.” 

At issue are competing approaches intended “take the patients out of the middle” of out-of-network fee disputes between physicians and health plans. And the bills with the upper hand in Congress so far use the power of the federal government to let insurance companies determine what they’ll pay physicians for care they provide out of network to patients. 

“This is about much more than balance billing,” Dr. Fleeger warned. “If you take insurance, this affects you.” 

TMA, the American Medical Association (AMA), and much of organized medicine are backing a different approach to the surprise billing problem: the Protecting People from Surprise Medical Bills Act, sponsored by Congressmen Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and Phil Roe, MD (R-Tenn.). It’s based on a proven model that’s been in place in New York since 2015 that curbs surprise billing and “also gets at the insurance company tactics that cause surprise bills in the first place,” Dr. Fleeger wrote. 

“That is what we need to sell to Senators Cornyn and Cruz and our representatives.” 

He urged TMA and TMA Alliance members to call these officials to set up meetings while they’re back home, use the TMA Grassroots Action Center to quickly and easily share your Ruiz-Roe message with them via email or Twitter, or see where they’re holding town hall meetings

“Ask them to support the Ruiz-Roe bill and oppose any legislation based on anti-free-market/anti-physician/anti-patient principles,” Dr. Fleeger wrote. “We must take our patients out of the balance billing process, and the Ruiz-Roe bill is the right way to do it.” 

To learn all about the Ruiz-Roe bill and its competitors, see TMA’s Surprise Billing Congressional Handout or the AMA’s Surprise Billing Action Kit.


Last Updated On

August 16, 2019

Originally Published On

August 16, 2019

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Steve Levine

VP, Communication

(512) 370-1380
Steve Levine

A former statehouse reporter, political press secretary, and state agency spokesman, Steve Levine has directed the Communication Division at TMA since 1997. He oversees Texas Medicine, Texas Medicine Today, TMA's media and public relations activities, and the TMA Knowledge Center, website, and social media activities.

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