Price transparency compliance adds financial hardship for rural hospitals, they say

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The CMS price transparency rule is straining rural hospitals that were already at risk of shutting down due to financial woes exacerbated by the pandemic, Bloomberg Law reported Sept. 15.

The rule, which took effect Jan 1., 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.

Currently, hospitals that are not in compliance with the rule pay a $300 per day fine. 

For major health systems, this fine is a "small price to pay" but enough to be "devastating" to a rural healthcare facility, Brock Slabach, chief operations officer for the National Rural Health Association, told Bloomberg Law. 

Mr. Slabach said that the cost of ensuring compliance is also a factor, and many rural hospitals don’t have the staff to devote to compliance without "harming other parts of their operation."

Sally Buck, CEO of the National Rural Health Resource Center, told Bloomberg Law that while she hasn't heard of rural hospitals closing due to the price transparency requirement, it has caused "financial hardship" for many facilities. 

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