Skip to main content

How our members from multiple political parties

helped end Surprise Medical Bills for all Americans


Surprise Medical Bills Were Out of Control

To start, our members gave us feedback on issues they would like to work on. Then, by rating a list of the most promising issues, they chose to work on ending surprise medical bills.

Surprise medical bills come in two forms. First, a patient pays more when they receive care from a medical provider that is not part of their insurer’s network. Second, those out-of-network providers can bill more to the patient directly if they aren’t satisfied with the reimbursement amount from the patient’s insurance. This is called a “balance bill.” 

How Often Did Services Result in Surprise Medical Bills?

% of Patients who Receive Surprise Medical Bills

Ambulance Services


Emergency Admissions





Inpatient Admissions





Unfortunately, surprise medical bills are a common problem for Americans. A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that almost half of emergency and inpatient visits resulted in surprise medical bills.

Surprise bills are also increasingly expensive. The JAMA study found that a patient’s average surprise bill went up by almost three times between 2010 and 2016. In some cases, surprise bills can reach tens-of-thousands or hundreds-of-thousands of dollars.

Creating CommonSense Solutions

Members of CommonSense American effectively address issues such as surprise medical billing using these four steps:



Our Members identify solutions with the greatest promise of attracting broad, cross-partisan support like Surprise Medical Billing.


Our staff develops a thorough policy brief on each issue.


Each member reviews the brief to which the've been randomly assigned and weighs in on the policy questions.


Each member shares their own views with their members of Congress.

With members in all 50 states, our balanced membership reflects the nation both politically and geographically.

Since our members belong to the Republican, Democratic, and multiple third parties (including independents), Congressional staff told us they value their views more than those from single party advocacy groups. It’s more reflective of what the views are of the voters who put them in office and will decide if they stay.

Political Affiliation of our Members

Help Bring Common Sense

to American Politics

It works. keep reading to learn how we helped end surprise medical bills.

CommonSense American Made a Difference

We can take great satisfaction in having been a meaningful part of this bipartisan, practical solution. The thousands of CommonSense Americans who reviewed our brief overwhelmingly supported ending this outrageous and unfair practice.

The more than 1,500 unique emails sent by these Republicans, Democrats, and independents from every state in the country to their Members of Congress were crucial to getting this across the finish line. Also important were the more than 150 congressional briefings conducted by our staff reviewing our national results. 

The interest group opposition remained fierce to the very end. Insurers argued it would force them to pay too much to out-of-network providers. Medical providers argued insurers wouldn’t be required to pay them enough. The private equity firms who have made hundreds-of-millions of dollars by buying up emergency physician practices — so that they could engage in surprise billing — funded much of the medical provider opposition, including tens-of-millions of dollars in TV ads.

No group was more effective than CommonSense American at providing fair and balanced information for everyday Americans to form their own opinion and then organizing them to register their own views with Congress.

Keith Allred SMB Meeting

Executive Director Keith Allred briefing senior staff on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

Pro Provider Ads on Television

A series of still images from TV ads sponsored by Doctor Patient Unity, which was discovered to be funded by the private equity firms, TeamHealth and Envision Healthcare.

Political Add
Political Add
Political Add
Political Add

Ending surprise medical bills was a major achievement. But, we’re just getting started. We invite you to join us as we tackle more issues together.