Lawmakers Call For Greater Price Transparency

Jan 8, 2016

Two Republican lawmakers Thursday proposed wide-ranging bills that seek more transparency about the prices of services at hospitals and other types of health-care facilities.

The bills (HB 1175 and SB 1496), filed by state Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and state Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, come after a series of allegations by Gov. Rick Scott's administration that hospitals have engaged in "price gouging."

Lawmakers will consider the bills during the legislative session that starts Tuesday.

"Floridians in need of medical services can be in a very vulnerable position,'' Bradley said in a news release jointly issued by the lawmakers. "All too often, they can be quickly pressured to agree to a specific procedure or course of treatment and are provided no information on the price or quality of care. By implementing these key transparency measures, we can make sure medical facilities are providing important information that will help patients and their families make informed decisions about their health care."

As an example of the proposed requirements, the bills call for hospitals to post online information about payments they have received for "bundles" of services and procedures. Also, upon request, hospitals would be required to give estimates of anticipated charges before non-emergency services are provided to patients.

The Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, which includes teaching, public and children's hospitals, issued a statement Thursday that said it was evaluating the bills but supports transparency.

"Increasing transparency gives patients more control of their health care decisions and, ultimately, strengthens the community's support of Florida's safety net hospitals in their mission to provide critical, quality care to the state's most vulnerable citizens,'' the statement said.