Lawmakers urge 'vigorous oversight' of price disclosure rule

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are urging HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to conduct "vigorous oversight" of the CMS rule on hospital price transparency that went into effect Jan. 1. 

The CMS final rule aims to make hospital pricing information readily available to patients to compare costs and make more informed healthcare decisions. To aid with this, hospitals in the U.S. are required to post both a machine-readable file with the negotiated rates for all items and services and display the prices of 300 shoppable services in a consumer-friendly format. 

In an April 13 letter to Mr. Becerra, four lawmakers said they are concerned about "troubling reports" of hospitals acting slowly to comply or not taking any action to comply. 

The lawmakers cited two recent reports of noncompliance with the rule, including a study published in Health Affairs that found 65 of the 100 largest U.S. hospitals, based on bed count, were not in compliance with the rule. Twelve of the 65 noncompliant hospitals didn't post any files or provide links to searchable databases that were not downloadable. The rest of the noncompliant hospitals either did not include payer-specific negotiated rates with the name of the payer and plan clearly associated with the charges or were in some other way noncompliant. 

"Given the widespread non-compliance by hospitals, we urge HHS to revisit its enforcement tools, including the amount of the civil penalty, and to conduct regular audits of hospitals for compliance. We also request a staff briefing on the implementation of the final rule and on the agency’s audit of hospitals’ compliance with the final rule," the lawmakers wrote. 

House Energy and Commerce Chair Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., ranking member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., as well as leaders of the health subcommittee, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., penned the letter. 

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