Hospital price posting isn't perfect, but it's a good start, CMS chief says

CMS Administrator Seema Verma took to Twitter Jan. 10 to address the agency's new requirement for hospitals to post their standard charges online.

She acknowledged that the information hospitals are posting "isn't patient-specific," but she said the federal government still believes the requirement "is an important first step and sets the stage for private third parties to develop tools and resources that are more meaningful and actionable."

She emphasized that hospitals may develop tools that go beyond the requirement. As an example, she pointed to Aurora, Colo.-based UCHealth's out-of-pocket costs tool, which provides patients with out-of-pocket cost estimates for select services and procedures based on their insurance plan information.

Ms. Verma's remarks come more than a week after CMS' price transparency rule took effect Jan. 1. The rule requires hospitals to publish their standard charges on the internet. They must present the information in a machine-readable format that can be easily imported into a computer system and update the information at least annually.

The rule has faced criticism from some hospitals because the information published online does not provide insured patients with an accurate picture of their expected out-of-pocket costs since provider negotiations with insurance companies aren't factored in.

Ms. Verma recently told reporters the agency is now soliciting feedback from stakeholders about implementation of the rule, according to the American Journal of Managed Care.

 

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