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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

U.S. Proposes Raising Penalty for Hospitals That Don’t Publish Prices

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Many hospitals have failed to publish their prices as required by federal rules that took effect this year



Photo:

Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Monday proposed sharply higher penalties for larger hospitals that don’t make their prices public.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency responsible for enforcing rules requiring hospitals publish their prices, is seeking to raise penalties as high as $2 million a year for large hospitals that fail to make prices public. Large hospitals are those with more than 30 beds.

The proposed penalty is a sharp increase from the $109,500 maximum per year per hospital under existing rules. For hospitals with 30 or fewer beds, penalties remain the same.

The proposal comes after many hospitals failed to publish their prices as required by federal rules that took effect this year, undercutting policy makers’ goal of boosting competition and choice through transparent pricing.

As of Monday, data from price-transparency startup Turquoise Health Co. shows no usable pricing data from 32% of 4,885 acute care, children’s or rural primary-care hospitals.

The company’s database includes another 10% of these hospitals with prices that fall short of requirements.

“With today’s proposed rule, we are simply showing hospitals through stiffer penalties: Concealing the costs of services and procedures will not be tolerated by this administration,” Health and Human Services Secretary

Xavier Becerra

said.

Write to Melanie Evans at Melanie.Evans@wsj.com, Anna Wilde Mathews at anna.mathews@wsj.com and Tom McGinty at tom.mcginty@wsj.com

The Cost Crisis in Healthcare

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