Sunday, July 3, 2022

New transparency rules coming to hospitals nationwide Jan. 1

On Jan. 1, 2019, hospitals will need to comply with new U.S. Health and Human Services rules that call for greater transparency in pricing and billing.

“This payment proposal takes important steps toward a Medicare system that puts patients in charge of their care,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. The new rules allow patients “to receive the quality and price information needed to drive competition and increase value.”

According to a news release from the HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the rule also solicits feedback on further actions, “which will be necessary to disrupt our existing system and deliver real value for healthcare consumers,” Azar said. “We are going to move toward a system that provides better care for Americans at a lower cost.”

According to a March 5 speech Azar gave to the Federation of American Hospitals, “part of the problem (with healthcare in America) happens to be the equation that we’ve used for healthcare in this country for decades now: paying for procedures and sickness. For over a decade, we have been on a journey to replace that equation with a new one — paying for outcomes and wellness — but that transition needs to accelerate dramatically.”

The policy changes, according to the HHS’s website, include:

  • Requiring hospitals to post their standard list of prices on the Internet and in a machine-readable format, rather than just being required to make them available in some form
  • Focusing the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program on promoting interoperability, to allow patients to  control their records and access them in a usable format

HHS also issued a request for comment on new ways to:

  • Stop “surprise billing” by insurance and medical care providers.
  • Provide patients better information up front about the out-of-pocket costs they will face.
  • Encourage further transparency from providers, including providing tools for comparing prices and making public which institutions are out of compliance with transparency measures.
  • Push providers reimbursed by Medicare to take more steps in making their electronic health records interoperable.
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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