MAG president addresses 'surprise bills' in letter to AJC

The following letter to the editor that was written by MAG President Frank McDonald, M.D., M.B.A., appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on March 13…

Ariel Hart hit the nail on the head when she noted that patients have been “stuck in the middle” (“Surprise medical bills targeted in Georgia Senate bill,” Politically Georgia, Feb. 27). Georgia has some of the narrowest health insurance networks in the country, which means insurers offer fewer in-network options to control costs. These narrow networks create a hidden coverage gap that patients don’t realize exists until it’s too late. Of course, patients are also paying higher premiums and deductibles. And these same insurance companies are subjecting physicians to insufficient and unsustainable, take-it-or-leave-it contracts. As the leading voice for physicians in the state, the Medical Association of Georgia consequently supports a bill by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler that unanimously passed the Georgia Senate. SB 359 leverages an independent and verifiable database to establish a fair reimbursement schedule for physicians who care for patients on an “out-of-network” basis in emergency services settings. This will incentivize insurers to negotiate in good faith. MAG believes SB 359 represents a sustainable solution that will provide every Georgian with peace of mind by putting an end to surprise bills.

Dr. Frank McDonald, President, Medical Association of Georgia