On April 24, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced a new proposed rule (CMS-1694-P) (“Proposed Rule”). In an attempt to “empower patients through better access to hospital price information,” CMS plans to alter the requirements previously established by Section 2718(e) of the Affordable Care Act.
Under Section 2718(e), “each hospital operating within the United States shall for each year establish (and update) and make public…a list of the hospital’s standard charges for items and services provided by the hospital.” CMS has previously interpreted Section 2718(e) to require hospitals to either make public a list of standard charges or implement policies for allowing the public to view a list of the standard charges by individual request. It was originally believed by CMS that patients could use such information to compare charges for similar services across hospitals, just as someone “shops around” for the best price in plumbing services. However, CMS contends that Section 2718(e), as is currently written, is insufficient to establish the necessary hospital price transparency.
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