As hospitals plan to sue, physician organization applauds new HHS price transparency rule

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons came out in support of the price transparency rules finalized Nov. 15 by the Trump administration.

Set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, the rule will require hospitals and health plans to disclose negotiated prices in a "consumer-friendly manner" on at least 300 "shoppable services," including up to 70 selected by CMS, Medscape reported.

AAPS, a national conservative organization representing physicians in all specialties, submitted comments in support of the proposal, saying this kind of price transparency will help lower medical costs and allow healthcare consumers to make informed choices.

AAPS encouraged the implementation of price-disclosure policies in 2018, stating that payers should "make information about contracted rates readily available to their enrollees. How can enrollees make informed choices without knowing ahead of time, as much as practical, what their insurer will pay for a given procedure at a given facility?"

However, hospitals and health systems fiercely oppose the proposal. Several hospital associations have announced plans to sue HHS over the policy, saying the agency has gone beyond its legal authority, according to Medscape.

"Instead of helping patients know their out-of-pocket costs, this rule will introduce widespread confusion, accelerate anticompetitive behavior among health insurers, and stymie innovations in value-based care delivery," the American Hospital Association and three other groups said.

On a call with reporters, HHS seemed prepared for legal challenges, Medscape reported.

"We may face litigation, but we feel we're on a very sound legal footing for what we're asking," HHS Secretary Alex Azar reportedly said on the call. "And we certainly hope that America's hospitals will want to respect their patients' right to know what the price of the service is before they're asked to purchase it."

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