Oklahoma Squashes Hospital Pricing Transparency

Medical cost transparency bill dies in Oklahoma House with little support……………

Article Referred by Rick Franklin, Frates Benefit Services

by Dale Denwalt  Published: April 11, 2018

The House Public Health Committee blocked a measure Tuesday that would have forced most hospitals to share their prices on demand.

The original version of Senate Bill 890 would have created a state-run website featuring the average cost of the most popular medical procedures, by hospital. It would have affected only hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers that accept Medicaid patients.

By the time it reached the House committee, though, an amendment slashed most of the requirements from the bill. The final version, which failed on a 6-2 vote, eliminated the website and Oklahoma State Department of Health obligations, instead forcing those hospitals to share the same information if and when the public asks for it.

“I’ve heard a lot of concerns about this bill, how it was written as it came over from the Senate,” said House author state Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy. “So I’ve really tried to strip it down, take all the requirements out for the website, removed the Health Department.”

After few questions and no debate, committee members made their decision.

Principal Senate author Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, said his bill would have encouraged competition among medical providers.

“Competition must be injected into the marketplace for health care reform to actually occur,” he said. “We’re on this escalator where costs continue to rise, and health care spending is one of those rare areas where what I pay is not necessarily translated in my decision-making because of co-pays, insurance. It’s an abstract decision.”

The Oklahoma Hospital Association, however, said it’s not that simple. Brecheen’s bill would have posted the total cost of the medical procedures, before any reductions in price due to an individual’s health insurance plan. There are also benefits for people without insurance that wouldn’t be readily apparent on the proposed website.

“We feel it’s not the best approach to pricing information for medical services,” said OHA Vice President Rick Snyder. “They may well qualify for uninsured discounts or charity care, even free care. That’s the information that’s relevant to them, not what the hospital charges on average. The place that charges the least may not have the best deal for an uninsured patient.”

Dale Denwalt

Dale Denwalt has closely followed state policy and politics since his first internship as an Oklahoma Capitol reporter in 2006. He graduated… read more ›