Financial penalties increased hospitals' price transparency compliance: Study

Hospitals are more likely to comply with price transparency requirements when they face larger financial penalties for noncompliance, a study published June 29 in JAMA Network Open found. 

Researchers at Boston-based Harvard School of Medicine and the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., compared changes in compliance rates from 2021 to 2022. 

In 2021, CMS fined hospitals a flat rate of $300 each day they were not in compliance with price transparency requirements. In 2022, the agency changed the fine to a sliding scale based on bed count, ranging from $300 for hospitals with 30 or fewer beds, to $5,500 a day for hospitals with 550 or more beds. 

Hospitals that faced higher increases in potential financial penalties were more likely to post complete price transparency information. 

In 2022, 87.7 percent of hospitals complied with price transparency requirements. The study's authors estimated raising penalties by another $1.4 million per hospital would raise compliance rates to 95 percent. 

"Overall, the results of this cohort study suggest that financial penalties may be a valuable tool for ensuring compliance with CMS policy when fines are sufficiently large, noncompliance is readily observable and well defined, and enforcement is credible," the authors wrote. 

Read the full study here. 

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