AHA to feds: Give COVID-stressed hospitals a break on price transparency compliance

The American Hospital Association is calling on HHS to exercise enforcement discretion when ensuring compliance with the price transparency rule that took effect Jan. 1. 

The association said compliance with the rule is particularly challenging at this time due to an influx of COVID-19 patients and need to rapidly administer coronavirus vaccines. 

"Both of these events are straining hospital and health system resources at a critical time," the letter reads. 

Implementing the rule is adding another large burden to the finance, billing and information technology staff, who are also responsible for helping hospitals navigate the surge in COVID-19 patients and vaccine demand, the AHA said. 

For example, the revenue and IT departments responsible for implementing the rules also help map surge capacity, manage the rescheduling of elective procedures and help build out vaccine administration tracking systems to comply with state and federal reporting requirements, according to the AHA.

"The time and resources these employees devote to implementing this rule are time and resources diverted from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. These competing resource constraints do not diminish simply because we have passed the Jan. 1 implementation date," the letter reads. 

Additionally, the AHA argues that HHS has not provided sufficient compliance guidance to hospitals for several provisions in the rule. One gap, according to the AHA, is guidance for which rate hospitals should use when no rate exists in the contract between insurers and providers. 

"We again ask that the agency exercise enforcement discretion at least until the end of the public health emergency and use that time to effectively mesh the new and existing requirements. We stand ready to work with you to align these requirements to benefit patients," the AHA letter concludes. 

Read more about the price transparency rule here. 

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