Senate Bill on Pharmacy "Gag Clauses"
By a vote of 98-2, the Senate passed legislation to ban pharmacy "gag clauses," so that pharmacists are not prohibited from telling customers that they can save money on prescriptions by paying with cash instead of insurance. Such gag clauses are sometimes included in contracts between pharmacies and insurers or pharmacy benefit managers. President Trump had tweeted his support for the measure. See Senate Passes Massive Opioid Package, Bill To Ban Gag Clauses (Fierce Healthcare, 9/18/18). A similar bill was marked up in the House Energy and Commerce Committee on September 7.
Bipartisan Senate Measure on "Surprise Medical Bills"
The Hill newspaper reports that a bipartisan group of Senators has developed a draft measure to crack down on surprise medical charges from providers outside an insurance plan's network. The bill would: prevent an out-of-network from charging additional costs for emergency services; require health care providers to give written notification to patients who receive emergency care at an out-of-network facility before they receive any follow-up non-emergency care; and prohibit charges from out-of-network doctors at an in-network hospital (such as an anesthesiologist or emergency physician). See Bipartisan Senators Unveil Proposal to Crack Down on Surprise Medical Bills (The Hill, 9/18/18).