INSURERS HIRE LOBBYIST WHO HELPED CRAFT SURPRISE BILLING LEGISLATION: A pair of major health insurers have hired a Senate HELP veteran who helped craft last year’s bill on ending so-called surprise medical bills to lobby on how the fix gets implemented.

Adam Buckalew, the HELP Committee’s deputy health policy director before starting his own consulting firm, alb solutions, last month, will lobby for Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield on the No Surprises Act. It’s aimed at protecting patients from sky-high medical bills when they unwittingly receive out-of-network care, according to lobbying disclosures filed Monday.

— The bill calls for insurers and providers “to negotiate most billing disputes or bring their complaints to a mediator,” but prohibits “arbiters from taking into account Medicare and Medicaid rates, which are typically much lower than what commercial coverage pays,” POLITICO’s Susannah Luthi reported at the time.

— The agreement was the result of last-minute negotiations at the end of last year after a contentious and expensive lobbying battle between health providers and insurers, as well as infighting on the Hill, though now it is up to the Biden administration to write the rules for how the mediation system will work.