by Richard McCarty
You may have never heard of them, but there is a new, young billionaire couple determined to leave their mark on society. John and Laura Arnold are not interested in the type of philanthropy that builds libraries and college buildings or feeds, clothes, shelters, and educates the poor. No, like George Soros, the Arnolds are on a mission to “change the country,” whether we like it or not. When these arrogant elitists are not busy trying to erode our gun rights, promoting abortion, funding spying on citizens, or trying to upend our electoral system, they are busy trying to cut medical professionals pay. Specifically, the liberal power couple wants to address the issue of surprise medical billing by reducing the amount of money that medical professionals are paid for providing out-of-network care to patients.
It is unclear why a guy who made his fortune betting on natural gas prices and a lawyer who worked in the oil industry would feel the need to weigh in on medical billing. But apparently they do. Of course, due to the fact that they are siding with the insurance industry, it does raise questions about whether or not they are invested in any insurance companies and stand to grow richer if their policy wishes are enacted.
To be sure, surprise medical billing is a problem. Even if you go to an in-network hospital for care, you could be treated by an out-of-network doctor and wind up with an unexpectedly large bill. There are a couple main proposals to address the issue.
One proposal, which the Arnolds support, would force out-of-network healthcare providers to accept whatever an insurance company pays in-network providers for their services. It is claimed that this proposal would save insurance companies money and, in turn, reduce costs for consumers and the government. Of course, it could lead to more providers exiting the field, which could be particularly problematic for rural areas that already lack adequate access to health care.
Forcing medical care providers to take whatever an insurance company offers is concerning. If this were to be made an acceptable practice, what would stop the government from arbitrarily reducing prices of anything that it purchases? Imagine the amounts of money that could be saved if the government required office supply companies and cleaning companies to sell their products and services at cost. While that might seem absurd, is it any more absurd than arbitrarily reducing medical providers’ payments? Just before Enron’s implosion, John Arnold received an $8 million bonus. While he’s happy to suggest that the government should pass legislation that would lead to medical professionals being paid less, one suspects that he would have objected to a law that reduced his bonus even if it saved the government money.
A better proposal would require binding arbitration if a health insurance company and a medical care provider could not agree on pricing. As with the other proposal, insurers and providers — rather than patients — would be responsible for resolving disputes over surprise bills. States as divergent as Texas and New York have already passed such legislation.
For a number of years the tight has been telling “woke” entertainers to kindly “shut up and sing.” Now it is time for the Right to deliver a message to the “woke” billionaires, like George Soros, Tom Steyer, and John and Laura Arnold: “Shut up and drink your champagne.” Just because these liberal billionaires have been financially successful does not mean that they have any special insight into health care, abortion, law enforcement, or criminal justice policies. If they are not adequately fulfilled by their champagne-drinking and feel the need to give back to society, maybe they should reconsider feeding, clothing, sheltering, and educating the poor – even though they might find it boring or beneath them.
– – –
Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.