An influential labor union and state lawmakers are making a push to expand hospital pricing disclosure and transparency rules in New York.
The bill has called a needed measure to help boost transparency in the world of health care pricing for consumers, but hospitals have maintained they comply with federal transparency rules in order to help patients evaluate costs.
The measure, backed by Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, would require the state to release an annual report that discloses hospital prices, differences and comparisons.
“Accountability is the key to health care affordability," Gounardes said "We need more disclosure of pricing, variations and comparisons to ultimately make better and more informed purchasing decisions that could save taxpayers billions of dollars. Justice is supposed to be blind, but when it comes to creating a more equitable healthcare system, the state can’t remain in the dark.”
An analysis from the union backing the measure, 32BJ SEIU, determined $2.5 billion could be saved if hospital prices were aligned with the Medicare rate, which union officials maintain shows how reporting of pricing should be publicly enahnced.
“You wouldn’t expect a working family to blindly spend their money without knowing the price of what they’re buying," said 32BJ President Manny Pastreich. "So why should the state do that with healthcare spending and hospital prices? That’s why 32BJ SEIU views a concise and comprehensive report, which provides New Yorkers a better insight into where their taxpayer dollars are being spent as vital. With this report, we can build a roadmap to improve healthcare access and affordability for all of us.”
The union has backed more transparency rules for New York City hospitals at the City Council level. But hospitals have called those efforts "deeply flawed" public policy.
In November, the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents private hospitals, defended its transparency compliance record to The New York Post.
“New York City hospitals post both their prices and consumer-friendly calculators online to help individuals estimate their costs," the group's president Kenneth Raske said at the time. "They do this to comply with Federal requirements that cover all US hospitals."