Commentary: Let’s address surprise medical bills in Delaware

The barriers in our current health care system persist in seemingly new and creative ways every single day. There are shortages of primary care doctors and exorbitant costs to lifesaving medication.

There’s also another potent layer: Surprise medical bills.

There’s certainly a time and place for surprises in our daily lives, from bridal showers to birthday lunches with friends and family. Without question, surprise medical bills are not welcome by anyone.

Andria Bennett

Seeking medical attention is an emotional, vulnerable process. Intrinsically, we want help; not additional tension and confusion around how much a health procedure costs and whether it was considered in or out of your health insurance network.

These “surprises” can cause financial ruin. These “surprises” can force a patient into bankruptcy or cause them to make extremely rash decisions. That’s the complete opposite of medical care.

Congress has attempted to address this issue in various measures with valiant efforts by lawmakers, including our U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper. The progress has halted, but the issue still remains.

However, whenever there is a stalemate in Congress, and frankly before one even occurs, Delaware does what it does best — act. In the First State, we have made strides to address a variety of issues that impact people in their day-to-day lives.

There is legislation to expand protections for patients when it comes to surprise billing. We are working to reduce costs for patients when they pick up their medication at the pharmacy counter and cap the cost of diabetic insulin. I’ve been working tirelessly to flip the balance of power away from the pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) looking to gouge people on their care and put it back in the hands of the patients and medical professionals who treat them.

Soon, my Pharmacy Reimbursement Task Force will submit a robust report on the PBM industry so we can drill down on this issue and hold them accountable.

It’s time we put the “care” back in health care and remember why this industry is so critical. While it’s incumbent on Congress to act, Delaware sometimes must take the lead. I’m proud of Delaware’s patient-centered legislation, and I hope we can continue to move the bar for our residents and their well-being.

Rep. Andria Bennett represents the 32nd Representative District in Delaware, which covers South Dover and Magnolia.