Support for SITE Act appreciated


It’s rather clear that our healthcare system is broken. Thankfully, Senator Mike Braun is working with Senators Maggie Hassan and John Kennedy on a bipartisan bill that will help lower costs through requiring transparency on billing. The Site-based Invoicing and Transparency Enhancement Act would fix part of the current Medicare billing structure that allows hospital systems to charge high hospital rates for care received at off-campus outpatient facilities. This bill would end dishonest billing practices on the national level to help contain the rising costs of care at hospitals and doctor’s offices.

The 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act included for site neutral exceptions, which exempted most facilities from fair billing requirements. The SITE Act would end these exemptions, preventing off-campus emergency departments from charging higher rates than on-campus emergency departments when standalone emergency facilities are located in close proximity to a hospital campus. It would also require health systems to establish and bill patients by using a unique National Provider Identifier number for each and every off-campus outpatient department while directing the Health and Human Services Department to treat outpatient departments as subparts of the parent organization that have unique provider identifiers. There would also be no liability for services rendered for payers that are not billed in accordance with that section’s requirements.

This will save billions of dollars, which can now be used to address additional issues plaguing our healthcare system. Staffing shortages at our hospitals is one of the preeminent issues facing our healthcare system. This fix to the current law would allow the use of these savings to help fill the nursing shortage by creating a graduate nursing education program that would provide payments for training costs. This program would create 20,000 new training positions per year for the next six years, filling a massive void in the marketplace.

I am proud to be represented by a senator who is willing to address the tough issues head on. Sen. Braun said in a statement that “fixing this problem will save taxpayers $40 billion over the next decade, and this bill will apply some of those savings to fixing our nursing shortage by creating a new program to pay for training.” We need more business-minded leaders in Washington like Sen. Braun who can pinpoint areas of great government waste and reform systems to create savings that benefit us all. This bill will not only protect Hoosier patients from predatory billing practices, but also use the savings from protecting patients to ensure higher quality healthcare through training so many more nurses to serve our communities.

Healthcare workers have been a backbone of our communities and I am glad that some of our leaders are finding solutions that benefit these workers and the patients they care for at the same time. With all the dysfunction in our nation’s capital, it is heartening to see a bipartisan group of legislators come together to fix important issues that impact us all. I hope the entire Indiana delegation will join Sen. Braun in supporting the SITE Act to ensure that we all can enjoy fair, transparent, and affordable healthcare.


Jim Johnson is chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party.