Surprise Medical Bills Could Prompt Rare Bipartisan Action in Congress

In this file photo, then-candidate Katie Porter -- now a Democratic congresswoman representing California's 45th district -- speaks at a campaign town hall in Orange County on October 22, 2018. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In this file photo, then-candidate Katie Porter -- now a Democratic congresswoman representing California's 45th district -- speaks at a campaign town hall in Orange County on October 22, 2018. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Even through the pain of a burst appendix just weeks before election day, Katie Porter made sure her campaign manager took her to Hoag Hospital in Irvine — and not to a closer hospital — because she knew the emergency room was in her insurance network.

An appendectomy followed, plus five days in the hospital on IV antibiotics. About $55,000 worth of services was covered by her Anthem Blue Cross insurance policy with only a $250 co-pay from Porter. But a few weeks later, she said, she was hit with a $3,231 bill from the surgeon who, despite operating in a hospital in the Anthem network, was not in the network himself. That left Porter on the hook for $2,800 out of pocket.

Porter, a Democrat elected in November to represent Irvine in Congress, was hit with a surprise medical bill — a phenomenon that happens in upward of 20% of emergency room visits, according to estimates.

With Congress mired in a political standoff with the executive branch, Republicans and Democrats are struggling to garner enough support to get any bills signed into law. But legislation to address surprise billing could be one of the few bipartisan initiatives that make it to President Trump’s desk this year.

Read the full story on LATimes.com

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