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Op-Ed: Fair Medical Billing is an Important Step to Reduce Healthcare Costs

By State Sen. Billy Beasley

Having the privilege of serving in the Alabama Senate for the past 13 years and in the House for 12 years prior, I’ve seen firsthand the evolution of public health policy in our state. There have been several legislative measures to help improve public health, and I can confidently say there is one common priority that cuts across every effort, no matter the elected representative or their political affiliation: the urgent need to reduce skyrocketing healthcare costs.

As a Member of the Senate Healthcare Committee, my colleagues and I are constantly hearing from patients, medical professionals, healthcare administrators, and other experts in the medical field who help mold solutions to address high healthcare costs. It’s a complex issue to examine and resolve. And at the end of the day, patients simply want to see more affordability in their bills – or, at the very least, not see costs go up unexpectedly.

Too many Alabama families, however, are seeing a cost increase on their hospital bill after a check-up or preventative treatment – and the unfair prices are often tied to the owner and the location of where care is delivered. In effect, big hospitals and other corporate entities now own nearly 70% of physician practices – a trend that often leads to higher rates charged for the delivery of the exact same services provided before the takeover of the private practice. It’s a blatant lack of price transparency that negatively impacts patients. Everyone’s cost of care should be consistent, regardless of where it’s delivered.

Unfair hospital billing only deepens the critical challenges that come with out-of-control healthcare costs. This is especially true in many corners of Alabama where countless families are simply trying to make ends meet. We are one of the U.S. states with the lowest median household income, so many Alabama families are under enormous strain. Alabama ranks fourth among all states in metrics such as disease prevalence and mortality rate, with over 38% of statewide residents who report being obese and one in ten Alabamians who have a disability. 

This is the reality of the public health landscape in our state – one that permeates across many of our communities, including in my district. We must address these urgent challenges in our state and take real steps to rein in the ever-increasing cost of healthcare for patients.

We must try every solution to bring down healthcare costs. Supporting bipartisan, commonsense proposals like the Facilitating Accountability in Reimbursements Act (FAIR) in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Site-based Invoicing and Transparency Enhancement Act (SITE) in the U.S. Senate are solutions that will create meaningful change in everyday lives. 

These proposed bills would help ensure transparency in hospital billing and foster much-needed stability for Alabama patients and families. From a national perspective, site-neutral payment policy reforms like these could reduce Medicare spending by more than $150 billion and bring down premiums and cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries by more than $90 billion.

I respectfully call on my fellow public servants from the state of Alabama, Senators Tommy Tuberville and Katie Britt, Congresswoman Terry Sewell, and Congressman Gary Palmer to support critical legislation like the SITE and FAIR Acts. They represent Alabama – and every American – on committees and subcommittees that examine challenges and solutions to public health. We need them at the policymaking table to move solutions that make healthcare more affordable.

Alabamians are counting on every tool we have at our disposal to bring healthcare costs down in the coming years. This includes fair and transparent medical billing – an urgent need we must implement and enforce for the benefit of millions of patients nationwide.


Billy Beasley Serves in the Alabama State Senate representing Barbour, Bullock, Henry, Houston, Macon, and Russell County

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