Court Rules Against the Hospital Industry Mandates Price Disclosure. Hospital prices that were historically rigged by the medical business along with the insurance industry, and kept secret from the public, will see the light of day January 1, 2021. This because on June 23, 2020 a federal judge in Washington D.C. dismissed a suit brought by the American Hospital Association (AHA) that challenged the Department of Health and Human Services rule mandating hospitals to disclose their privately negotiated prices with health insurance companies. This ruling, and what it means for doctors, patients and the industry, is the subject of the latest edition of the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on SoundCloud, iTunes, iHeart, Spotify and on the Houston Healthcare Initiative website.
Court Ruling Allows Transparency
The court ruled that an executive order from the Trump administration requiring hospitals to disclose pricing was legal. A federal judge upheld a policy that requires hospitals and health insurers to publish their negotiated prices for health services, numbers that are typically kept secret. The policy is part of a major push by the Trump administration to improve transparency in health care. Insurers and health providers usually negotiate deals behind closed doors, and patients rarely know the cost of services until after the fact.
Healthcare Industry Public Relations Offensive
The meaning of the ruling and what will happen are different. As Dr. Goldstein told his audience, “there will be an appeal accompanied by a full court public relations press by the hospital industry to derail this effort.” Dr. Goldstein went on to say, “if the battle can be dragged out until after the presidential election, hospitals and insurance companies can hope a new administration will rescind the executive order.”
Four organizations are now urging the Department of Health and Human Services to delay implementation of the price transparency rule until after the appeals court makes a decision in the case. The American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Children’s Hospital Association made their request in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar on June 29, five days after these associations and others filed an appeal against the ruling which would implement a rule on price transparency on January first. The groups said the rule would ‘pose a burden to hospitals and health systems responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.’ Thirty-four hospital groups have already urged HHS to delay the start of the price disclosure.
In an article published in “Becker Hospital Review” AHA General Counsel Melinda Hatton said, “the proposal does nothing to help patients understand their out-of-pocket costs.” She added, “it also imposes significant burdens on hospitals at a time when resources are stretched thin and need to be devoted to patient care. Hospitals and health systems have consistently supported efforts to provide patients with information about the costs of their medical care. This is not the right way to achieve this important goal.”
About The Houston Healthcare Initiative
Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America. Court Rules Against the Hospital Industry Mandates Price Disclosure.