Florida Governor Rick Scott Calls For More Hospital Price, Payment Transparency
By Dr. James Palermo // October 3, 2015
'ANTAGONISM' BETWEEN GOVERNOR AND HOSPITAL INDUSTRY HEATS UP
This week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott called for state lawmakers to pass legislation during next year’s session that would, in his words, “increase transparency for Florida hospitals and empower patients to fight against hospital price gouging.”
Scott’s proposal centers around requiring hospitals to post certain information on their websites, including their prices and average payments for products and services provided, and data related to performance on certain quality metrics that would be agreed upon by the State Consumer Health Information and Policy Advisory Council.
In addition, Scott proposed requiring tax-exempt hospitals to post their annual financial reports to the IRS online, which include information on executive compensation and lobbying spending.
Further, in a news release the governor said that patients should “have the ability to ask for a third-party review of their charges.”
“The high cost of health care continues to hurt some of our most vulnerable families in Florida, and the best way to guard against unfairly high hospital costs being passed on to patients is to require hospitals to be fully transparent with their own costs and patient charges,’’ Scott said.
“Most Florida hospitals receive state taxpayer dollars,” he added. “We must not use state money to subsidize hospitals [that] are charging our citizens unfairly high prices for services they receive, often during a time of personal crisis.”
The Associated Press reported that Scott has taken an “antagonistic approach” to dealing with hospitals over the last few months, with the tension between the governor and the hospital industry related to the two sides’ divergent opinions on expanding the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare).
Hospitals favor the expansion, while Scott and House Republican leaders are opposed.
In August, Scott directed the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to audit at least some contracts between hospitals and health insurers to determine if they comply with a state Medicaid law, contending that contracts could exceed a legal limit on Medicaid payment rates.
According to Bruce Reuben, the president of the Florida Hospital Association (FHA), Scott did not discuss his recent “transparency” proposals with the FHA.
Rueben said that there’s a big difference between high prices and so-called price gouging, and that the governor’s allegations of price gouging “are completely unfounded.”