Yesterday The Epoch Times reported that Judge Carl Nichols with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Trump administration can compel hospitals and insurers to publish negotiated costs for health care services that are normally kept secret from patients. This is wonderful news for patients in hospitals although I suspect that the medical community is not happy with the decision.
The article reports:
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced a rule in November 2019 that defined “standard charges,” laid out the publication requirements for hospitals and insurers, and the department’s enforcement plans.
At the time, hospital and insurer organizations and advocacy groups objected to the agency’s proposals, disputing that the Trump administration has the authority to require the disclosures, which they believe are trade secrets. The hospitals also disputed that the policy would benefit consumers and lead to lower costs, countering that compliance would instead be too burdensome and “get in the way” of providing services for patients.
The finalization of the rule, which goes into effect January 2021, prompted the American Hospital Association (AHA) to sue, arguing that the White House didn’t have the authority to make the directive, had violated the First Amendment in its creation, and had acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.
The article concludes:
Trump’s executive order on improving transparency on health care prices and quality required the HHS secretary to propose a regulation to publicly post standard charge information “in an easy-to-understand, consumer-friendly, and machine-readable format using consensus-based data standards that will meaningfully inform patients’ decision making and allow patients to compare prices across hospitals.”
It also requires hospitals to regularly update the posted information.
David Mitchell, the founder of advocacy group Patients For Affordable Drugs, said in a statement to The Epoch Times in response to the ruling that he thinks “we have to get rid of our system in which prices are secret and hidden from those who must pay them.”
This is good news for the people who pay for hospital care.