The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 10:10 pm

Braun, colleague push for more transparency in health care costs

The Journal Gazette

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun joined with a congressional colleague today to urge compliance with a transparency in health care rule.

The Indiana lawmaker joined Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire in requesting "robust enforcement" by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the Price Transparency Rule. 

The letter was specifically addressed to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. The rule was the subject of an executive order issued in September last year by then-President Donald Trump.

"There is no doubt the health care system is broken, and that the American people deserve better," the senators said.

The rule requires hospitals provide rates for 300 common services and the amount they would accept in cash in a digital, consumer-friendly database. Hospitals were expected to disclose the information by Jan. 1, the day the final rule took effect.

The problem appears to be progress, according to today's news release from Braun's office.

A study published on March 16 examining the price transparency of the 100 highest-revenue hospitals in the U.S. concluded 65 were non-compliant. And the senators cited issues such as incomplete information, burdensome access restrictions and hospitals burying cost information online. 

"It is clear that the current $300 per day civil monetary penalty threshold was not sufficient to hold hospitals accountable for complying with the transparency agreements," the release said.

And so, a deadline. 

Braun and Hassan asked CMS provide no later than 5 p.m. Oct. 1 information including the number of noncompliant hospitals that have received warning letters and/or correction action plans from the agency how the number that have been issued a civil monetary penalty.

The senators said they prefer state breakdowns for the hospitals and want a "description sufficient to help Congress understand either the improvement that is underway, or the work that remains to be done."

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