Congressional Committee Calls for Hospital Price Transparency Compliance Investigation
By Andrew Cass | November 10, 2022
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is asking the Government Accountability Office to open an investigation into hospitals’ compliance with the federal price transparency rules that went into effect Jan. 1, 2021.
“We are concerned with continuing reports of low hospital compliance and some hospitals’ complete lack of compliance,” Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. and Cathy McMorris Rodgers wrote in the Nov. 4 letter. “We are also troubled by reports that some hospitals disclosing their prices are making it difficult for consumers to access the price information.”
The committee is asking the Government Accountability Office to report on the following questions:
To what extent are hospitals complying with the requirement to make public a machine-readable file containing a list of all the standard charges for all items and services?To what extent are hospitals complying with the requirements regarding the online posting of a machine-readable list of hospital standards and charges, as well as a consumer-friendly list of the 300 shoppable services and their prices?To what extent is the price information easily accessible for consumers, including whether the price information is readily displayed? How is CMS monitoring and enforcing hospitals’ compliance with the rule, including what steps is CMS taking to ensure compliance? To what extent has CMS taken action against hospitals noncompliant with the final rule?To read more, go to Becker’s Hospital Review.
Leaked Amazon Video Shows New Telehealth Offering
By Noah Schwartz | November 9, 2022
Amazon quickly deleted a video posted on their YouTube channel that described Amazon Clinic, a potential new Amazon telehealth service focused on treating common conditions, like acne and allergies, The Verge reported Nov. 9.
The video described a telehealth service where patients could fill out a questionnaire about their symptoms and meet virtually with a clinician for a fee. Clinicians could diagnose the patient and provide prescriptions as necessary.
The video directed viewers to amazon.com/clinic, a website that is not yet live at the time of publication.
According to the video, the potential telehealth services would be offered through “third-party healthcare provider groups.”
The news comes as Amazon’s planned purchase of One Medical is set to disrupt the healthcare sector. Amazon’s previous telehealth offering for employees, Amazon Care, plans to cease operations at the end of this year.
Amazon declined The Verge’s request for comment.
To read more, go to Becker’s Hospital Review.
What a Divided Congress Could Mean for Healthcare in the Next Year
By Robert King | November 8, 2022
As voters head to the polls, several prognosticators believe Republicans have a solid chance of flipping control of the House, with the race for the Senate a toss-up.
Such a change could bring some major shifts in healthcare policy. In the current Congress, Democrats were able to expand Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies and introduce drug price reforms, but experts say there could still be some progress on areas of common ground if Republicans take one or both chambers of Congress.
With President Joe Biden still in the White House, Republicans could primarily use their new majority to hold oversight hearings.
“If Republicans win control of the House or the Senate, expect gridlock, lots of executive actions by President Biden to advance his agenda without Congress, and lots of congressional oversight hearings,” tweeted Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Republicans could use their oversight tools to scrutinize the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act that gave Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices for a small subset of Medicare Part B drugs, said Joel White, CEO of consulting firm Horizon Government Affairs and a former hill staffer.
“This is a sea change in how drug pricing works in America,” White said in an interview with Fierce Healthcare. “The law basically says for four years you get to do this without issuing formal regulations.”
There could be some areas of common ground Republicans could find with Democrats, especially in areas like telehealth. A bill to extend telehealth flexibilities for Medicare beneficiaries through December 2024 overwhelmingly passed the House and awaits consideration in the Senate.
White added that Republicans are likely to look at affordability and coverage issues, especially in the small group market, as small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and inflation.
To read more, go to Fierce Healthcare.
Independent Radiology Champion to Congress: ‘We Are In Serious Danger of Losing Local Healthcare Focus’
By Dave Pearson | November 6, 2022
Hospitals are rich and poised to get richer while independent physicians and groups continue to take it on the chin, facing ever more onerous pressures to consolidate under the headship of large hospitals, health systems or for-profit practice management companies.
This trend is to the detriment of all of U.S. healthcare—and if it’s not reversed, the flaws of the lopsided delivery model will be most acutely felt by patients.
So warns RBMA’s Radiology Patient Action Network (RPAN) in a message to Congress shared with the press Nov. 4.
The advocacy group’s plea for reconsideration comes as a response to CMS’s Nov. 1 publication of 2023 final rules for the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and (MPFS) and Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS).
“While independent and non-hospital based providers across the country now face significant cuts, hospitals will receive increased reimbursements of over $6 billion dollars,” RPAN states, adding that Medicare is already paying hospitals around 60% more than it pays independent doctors.
The widening reimbursement gap, the group adds, “will only lead to more consolidation among healthcare providers, compounding inequities between hospital-based and non-hospital based providers” and “limiting patient access to care.”
Relief Bill Has Momentum But Maybe Not Much Time
RPAN points federal legislators to a House bill submitted in September by Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA). Dubbed the “Supporting Medicare Providers Act of 2022,” the bill, HR 8800, has won broad bipartisan support.
Take Action Now on H.R. 8800!
To read more, go to Radiology Business.