Lack of access and high costs act as barriers to care for many Californians, and surprise medical billing makes these factors significantly harder to bear. However, the solution Anthony Wright recommends in his recent op-ed is simply not the right one)”OTHER VIEWS: California’s solution to stop surprise medical bills is working; it’s time to take it national,” Nov. 9). A “benchmarking” approach would only worsen access and affordability for many of our nation’s most at-risk patients.

Wright’s purported “solution” is to allow Washington bureaucrats to set rates for physicians using insurance-controlled benchmarks. This would allow insurers to slash rates for physicians, hitting local hospitals and emergency rooms with heavy financial losses and threatening access and affordability.

Recently, California doctors were surveyed about our state’s own benchmarking-based law. Roughly 90 percent of the respondents say our law allows insurance companies to further shrink provider networks and believe a national law using benchmarking would force more independent practices to close.

The op-ed said this problem can’t be solved by “allowing providers to charge insurers whatever they want,” which is odd because no proposed solution is arguing that they should. In fact, the proposal in Congress best suited to address this issue — Independent Dispute Resolution — would allow both insurers and provides to negotiate fair prices through a simple, online process to determine fair, market-based rates.

IDR provides fairness for both sides while, most importantly, keeping patients out of the middle of their squabble.

This is how a national law can fix surprise billing while protecting vulnerable communities.

NaTesha Kindred Johnson, Bakersfield