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Women's History Month

Georgetown CHIR’s Katie Keith is Taking on Surprise Medical Billing

This March, we’re recognizing the women who are making history today by working to impact policy change in various areas where Arnold Ventures works.

Kate Keith standing in front of city landscape.
Courtesy Photo

March is Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by recognizing the women who are making history today by working to impact policy change in various areas where Arnold Ventures works. 

Today, we’re highlighting Katie Keith, J.D., M.P.H., health care policy expert and faculty member at the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms (CHIR), which works to improve access to affordable and adequate health insurance by providing balanced, evidence-based research, analysis and strategic advice.

Who She Is

After studying science and neuroscience in college and serving in the Peace Corps in Ghana, Keith decided she was more interested in health policy than medical school. So she enrolled in a joint J.D.-M.P.H. program offered by Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities, graduating at the same time the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was being implemented. She joined CHIR, first as a research assistant and then as a faculty member. In addition to her work at CHIR, Keith writes the Following the ACA” rapid response analysis for Health Affairs Forefront, heads her own health care policy consulting firm which works only for non-profit organizations, and is a co-founder of Out2Enroll, a national initiative to connect LGBTQ+ people with coverage options.

What She’s Currently Working On

Keith is focusing on surprise medical billing, working as part of a CHIR team providing technical assistance to federal and state policymakers as they implement the No Surprises Act, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2022. The new law protects consumers from surprise bills when they receive emergency care, non-emergency care from out-of-network providers at in-network facilities, and air ambulance services from out-of-network providers. Keith and her colleagues are providing a full range of services, helping officials navigate the regulatory environment, address legal challenges, and develop solutions to ensure that the law works as intended in keeping patients’ costs down. They are also helping states fill gaps in No Surprises Act, for example, by passing their own laws extending protections to ground ambulance services.

What Inspires Her

I’m driven by the idea that our health care system does not work for millions and millions of people. I lost my father to cancer, my mom is a nurse, and I’ve experienced and witnessed the health care system first-hand. I’ve done that as someone with financial resources, a law degree and health insurance literacy, and I’m constantly reminded that, for people who don’t speak English as their first language or don’t have the resources and face all kinds of barriers to access and care, we just should be doing so much better. That’s why I’m increasingly interested in how we’ve gotten to this place where our system is as expensive as it is. I think surprise billing is a great example of just gouging patients for care that you thought was going to be covered. You’re getting these bills that can be hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that can’t be the system that we’ve built. Trying to fix these problems and doing it with a lens on equity and the most vulnerable among us is what drives me.”

I’m driven by the idea that our health care system does not work for millions and millions of people.
Katie Keith, J.D., M.P.H. health care policy expert and faculty member at the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms (CHIR)

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Arnold Ventures funds projects to understand problems and identify policy solutions.

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