Last week, Senator John Kennedy introduced the Hospital Transparency Compliance Enforcement Act which aims to enforce penalties on hospitals which hide costs of services from patients. Kennedy stated that, “Patients deserve to know the true cost of hospital items and services. I wrote this bill to protect patients by making hospitals clarify how much a visit might really cost so that patients can make informed choices about their care.” The bill would require ” hospitals to establish and make public a list of the prices that hospitals charge for items and services.” Hospitals would need to show charges in a consumer-friendly manner.
A study done in 2023 found that only 489 out 2,000 hospitals —or 24%— were found to be following ethical standards in displaying costs to patients.
According to the Sierra Sun Times:
In January 2022, the government implemented higher penalties on hospitals that fail to comply with the transparency rule. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires non-compliant hospitals with 30 or fewer beds to pay a penalty of $300 per day, those with 31 to 550 beds to pay between $310 and $5,500 per day and those with more than 550 beds to pay $5,500 per day.
The Hospital Transparency Compliance Enforcement Act would:
-Double the current government penalties on non-compliant hospitals. Penalties would increase to $600 per day for hospitals with 30 or fewer beds, $620 to $11,000 per day for hospitals with 31 to 550 beds and $11,000 per day for hospitals with more than 550 beds.
-Require all hospitals to comply with the higher penalties within six months of the law’s passage.
-Prohibit hospitals from shielding information on their websites using webpage coding.
-Give non-compliant hospitals 60 days after notice of non-compliance to pay their monetary penalty.
-Require CMS to publish the names of hospitals that have not complied.