Members of the Senate HELP Committee sitting around tables set up in a rectangular formation. (Photo: Senate HELP) Members of the Senate HELP Committee today voted 20-3 to approve S. 1895, a health care cost bill. (Photo: Senate HELP)

Members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted 20-3 to support S. 1895 — a health care cost bill that includes a health insurance producer compensation disclosure provision.

The provision, Section 308, would require agents, brokers and consultants in the group market to send detailed compensation disclosure statements to plan sponsors. The provision would require health insurers to take charge of sending policyholders producer compensation statements in the individual market.

Related: It’s time to lift the curtain on how brokers get paid

S. 1895 includes many provisions that would affect drug price disclosures and health care services price disclosure, especially for patients who are seeking emergency care, or ordinary care at in-network hospitals, and may be at risk of having to pay out-of-network prices.

The most visible opposition to the bill from parties other than health insurance producers and producer groups has come from providers of emergency medical services.

The only committee members to vote against the bill today were Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Warren is a Democrat from Massachusetts who is running for president.

Sanders is an independent from Vermont who’s running for president.

Rand — a board-certified ophthalmologist — blasted many provisions, and especially provisions that were included in an effort to keep insured patients seeking medical services from getting “surprise medical bills.”

The current version of the bill could, in some situations, require providers at a hospital that’s in an insured patient’s provider network to provide care at an in-network rate, even if the provider is not in the patient’s health plan network.

Rand said the provision would have a much broader effect than drafters expect.

“This is going to affect hundreds and hundreds of thousands of transactions,” Paul said.

Rand called the provision a form of cost control.

“If you fix the price that emergency room doctors work at, you will get a shortage,” Rand said.

Rand said drafters should replace the provision with efforts to improve health savings accounts and to give patients new ways to join together to negotiate for lower prices.

Health Agents for America (HAFA), a group that’s been fighting S. 1895, said in an alert sent to members that the committee vote in favor of the bill is “a bump in the road.”

“Don’t give up,” HAFA told its members.

HAFA said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, wants to have S. 1985 on the Senate floor by the end of July.

“Time to lobby the entire Senate and look for friends of our industry,” HAFA said in the alert. “Please ask other associations to step up.”

Resources

A copy of the current version of S. 1895 is available here.

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