SEVERE WX : Fire Weather Watch View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Hospitals sue Trump administration over price disclosure rule

A coalition of major hospital groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday to stop the Trump administration from requiring them to...

Posted: Dec 5, 2019 3:51 AM
Updated: Dec 5, 2019 3:53 AM

A coalition of major hospital groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday to stop the Trump administration from requiring them to disclose the prices they privately negotiate with insurers.

The move comes less than three weeks after the administration issued a final price transparency rule that officials say will help reduce health care costs, one of President Donald Trump's main promises as he heads into the 2020 campaign.

The hospital groups contend that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services overstepped its authority in compelling hospitals to publicize these rates. Plus, they argue, the provision violates the First Amendment by mandating they reveal the rates "in a manner that will confuse patients and unduly burden hospitals."

"CMS' final rule fails to offer patients easy-to-understand information regarding their out-of-pocket obligations for care -- so we feel obligated to contest the regulation," said Chip Kahn, chief executive of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents investor-owned hospitals. "We contend the agency exceeded its authority and should go back to the drawing board."

The federation filed the suit along with the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Children's Hospital Association, as well as three hospitals, in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

The rule, which stems from an executive order Trump issued this summer, requires hospitals to make public by 2021 the rates they negotiate with insurers and the amounts they are willing to accept in cash for an item or service. In addition, they must provide this information in an online, searchable way for 300 common services, such as X-rays, outpatient visits, Cesarean deliveries and lab tests. Hospitals that don't comply will face a civil penalty of up to $300 a day.

When he announced the regulation last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he believes it will survive any legal challenges from hospitals.

"Hospitals should be ashamed that they aren't willing to provide American patients the cost of a service before they purchase it," Caitlin Oakley, an HHS spokeswoman, said Wednesday.

Addressing the argument that patients are more interested in what they actually have to pay, the administration also released last month a proposed rule that would require insurers to provide consumers with estimates of their out-of-pocket costs for all health care services through an online tool. Carriers would have to disclose their negotiated rates for in-network providers, as well as the allowed amounts paid for out-of-network providers.

Administration officials contend that greater price transparency will allow patients to shop for medical services, which in turn will lead to lower prices.

"The decades-long norm of price obscurity is just fine for those who get to set the prices with little accountability and reap the profits, but that stale and broken status quo is bleeding patients dry," Seema Verma, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' administrator, wrote in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday. "The price transparency delivered by these rules will put downward pressure on prices and restore patients to their rightful place at the center of American health care."

But many health policy experts doubt the rule will have much of an impact on prices, in part because patients typically don't shop for health care services. Also, many areas of the country have one dominant hospital system, so consumers don't have a lot of choice.

"It doesn't matter if you know what the price is if you just have to pay that price regardless," Tara O'Neill Hayes, deputy director of health care policy at the American Action Forum, a right-leaning think tank, said last month at a forum on lowering health care costs.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 11188

Reported Deaths: 230
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah269472
Marion174353
Washington172020
Clackamas91427
Umatilla8867
Union3671
Lincoln3634
Lane2713
Malheur2661
Deschutes2290
Yamhill1719
Linn16810
Polk16812
Jackson1640
Jefferson1450
Morrow1321
Klamath1311
Wasco1021
Benton996
Hood River990
Douglas560
Clatsop550
Josephine541
Coos520
Columbia470
Lake240
Crook171
Tillamook150
Wallowa120
Curry90
Baker80
Sherman30
Harney20
Gilliam10
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 302484

Reported Deaths: 6859
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1249923690
Riverside23334533
Orange21517402
San Diego18402415
San Bernardino17414304
Imperial7654127
Fresno762787
Alameda7407146
San Joaquin606567
Kern597989
Santa Clara5678166
Tulare5509148
Sacramento493278
Stanislaus436450
Contra Costa435788
San Francisco414550
Ventura409353
Santa Barbara386829
San Mateo3787111
Marin322730
Kings285539
Monterey234317
Solano198527
Merced179312
Sonoma151914
Placer99311
San Luis Obispo8774
Madera8578
Yolo80228
Santa Cruz5063
Napa4664
Sutter3374
Butte3194
San Benito3112
El Dorado2920
Lassen2690
Shasta1766
Yuba1633
Humboldt1614
Glenn1590
Nevada1591
Mendocino1070
Colusa1030
Lake1011
Tehama981
Calaveras610
Tuolumne600
Del Norte580
Mono491
Amador360
Inyo341
Siskiyou330
Mariposa311
Plumas150
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 71°
Brookings
Overcast
56° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 56°
Crater Lake
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 67°
Grants Pass
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 68°
Klamath Falls
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 67°
Heating up, staying dry
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events