Letter to the editor: Contact your senator about surprise medical bills
Denver and Breckenridge
Doctor Patient Unity runs ads suggesting if there is government price setting for emergency care for out-of-network charges, it will result in hospitals closing and doctors abandoning their professions. A secretive “dark money” group has spent over $28 million on ads requesting you to contact your U.S. senators with their fear tactics. Reason: Presently a bipartisan Senate group is working on legislation that would ban the practice of sending bills to patients when they visit a hospital covered by their insurance. Unexpected medical bills have or almost have bankrupted families. One goes to an in-network emergency room, but some specialists and/or emergency doctors are working out-of-network. Surprise billings can be up to 300% of those paid by insurers.
This secretive group is two private equity firms. Blackstone Group, owns TeamHealth, and KKR. KKR owns Envision Healthcare and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Both provide physicians, mostly working out-of-network. The bill is bad for Blackstone Group and KKR’s bottom line but good for patients. The group is advertising for independent dispute resolution, which is complicated, take months to resolve, does not guarantee patient protection and adds another costly middle agency. Private equity firms pool money to invest in or buy companies. Normally, the money comes from wealthy individuals, pension funds and other sources. These investors want very high returns on their capital. In previous years, KKR reported a 23.5% yearly rise in distributable earning to shareholder. The KKR co-founders are handsomely compensated. Henry R. Kravis’ estimated net worth is $5.8 billion. George R. Roberts is worth about $6 billion. Should there be that much profit in an industry that exists to save lives? Contact your senators and request that the bill before them be approved, not Doctor Patient Unity’s ideas.
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