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Trump asks Congress to end 'unexpected,' 'unjustified' medical bills

"These surprise bills have ruined people's lives," President Donald Trump said in his call for a legislative fix.

By Clyde Hughes
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Trump asks Congress to end 'unexpected,' 'unjustified' medical bills
President Donald Trump delivers remarks on reducing healthcare cost and improving transparency on healthcare fees, at the White House on Thursday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

May 9 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump called on Congress Thursday to pass legislation to increase transparency on medical billing and end the practice of what he called expensive "surprise" medical bills.

Trump said he will send up a list of principles that should be included in the proposal, which should hold insurance companies and hospitals accountable when it comes to billing patients.

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"For too long, surprise billing, which has been a tremendous problem in the country, has left some patients with thousands of dollars in unexpected and unjustified charges for services they did not know anything about," Trump said. "They weren't told by the doctor. They weren't told by the hospital."

Specifically, Trump denounced charges from out-of-network providers, which he said patients are sometimes forced to see. He said any bill should require hospitals to present "clean" bills to patients upfront so they can receive the best possible care for the best possible cost.

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"These surprise bills have ruined people's lives," the president added. "They leave a hospital with something they think is routine, then they end up going to court and end up with lawyer bills that [are] bigger than they ever could have imagined."

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Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, who've led efforts for legislation, attended the White House announcement.

A study by the American Cancer Society this month said 6 in 10 Americans have suffered financial hardship due to healthcare costs. The study examined issues regarding payments, anxiety over bills and going without care to avoid hardship. Fifty-six percent of American adults reported at least one of those types of hardship, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

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In January, Trump directed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to come up with a solution to excessive medical costs.

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