Newsroom

During a roundtable in Seattle, Senator Murray heard from Washingtonians about their experiences navigating costly surprise medical bills and the complicated health insurance system

The top Democrat on the Senate health committee, Senator Murray is working in the Senate on a bipartisan solution to end the practice of surprise medical billing  

Senator Murray Hears from Patients, Advocates on Surprise Medical Bills – MORE HERE from KIRO   

More on Surprise Billing from Vox: Hospitals kept ER fees secret. We uncovered them.LINK 

ICYMI from Senator Murray: Work Will Continue to End Surprise Medical Billing, Strengthen Health Care For Patients & Families – MORE HERE

(Seattle, WA)  – On February 20th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, sat down with patients in Seattle to discuss the increasingly debilitating issue of surprise medical bills, and her plans to address the issue at the federal level. During the roundtable, Senator Murray heard first-hand accounts from Washingtonians of dealing with surprise medical bills, and the impact their surprise bills had on their health care and lives. While Washington state recently moved to end the practice of surprise billing in the state, during the discussion Senator Murray shared the importance of addressing the issue at the federal level to provide relief to Washingtonians and more across the country who could still be susceptible to surprise medical bills. Senator Murray also shared how she plans to use stories from Washington state in her continued efforts at the federal level to pass legislation to eliminate surprise medical bills. 

“I’m working, in a bipartisan, bicameral way, to get legislation passed, hopefully this year, hopefully soon, to cover everybody in the nation so no one has to question or go through what any of you did,” Senator Murray said to the roundtable participants. “I’m here to hear from each of you what happened to you so I can take those [stories] back and help build the case so we can get this done.”

During the discussion, Senator Murray heard from local patients like Lake Stevens resident Leeza Broome, who recounted her experience of being told after a trip to an emergency room in her insurance network that the physician who saw her was out-of-network. As a result, Leeza received a bill three times higher than her normal copay, which was debilitating for her and her family, and which she is still working to resolve: 

“When your family is struggling, living paycheck to paycheck, a $100 normal ER bill is enough to make you think about ‘is this really an emergency?’ So when I received an almost $300 physician’s bill on top of that, I was stunned,” Leeza Broome said during the discussion. “After receiving this surprise bill in the mail, I’m left thinking twice about out next emergency room visit. Is this an actual emergency? Can this wait until maybe urgent care opens or until we can get an appointment with our regular doctor? The panic attack of having a surprise bill show up should never have to be a consideration when you’re thinking about your family’s health care choices.”

Another local patient, Maria Eickelmann from Seattle, also shared her story of navigating the confusing health insurance system: to save costs on a surgery, Maria declined the services of an anesthesiologist on multiple occasions during preparations for her procedure—including in an awkward moment shortly before her surgery began. Then, after the surgery, Maria incidentally learned that the anesthesiologist that the hospital almost had work on her surgery was out of her insurance network. Maria recounted how her vigilance helped her avoid a service that would have assuredly resulted in a surprise medical bill.

As the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, Senator Murray has been working with Democrats and Republicans—in both the House and the Senate—to end surprise billing across the country, while still leaving strong state laws, like the one in Washington state, intact. Last year, Senator Murray announced a bipartisan proposal to address surprise medical bills, and has made clear that she will continue to fight for a solution that protects patients from higher costs—in the form of surprise medical bills, higher premiums, and more.

###