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Thursday August 11th, 2022 2:39PM

2 Georgia hospitals fined for not publicly disclosing prices

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Federal officials have fined two Georgia hospitals more than $1 million for failing to meet new requirements to publicly disclose their charges.

Northside Hospital Atlanta and Northside Hospital Cherokee are the first two hospitals in the country to face monetary penalties under the rules that went into effect last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Friday. CMS issued the fines this week — $883,000 for Northside Atlanta and $214,000 for Northside Cherokee.

“This enforcement action affirms the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making health care pricing information accessible to people across the country,” CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare Dr. Meena Seshamani said in a statement. "We are committed to ensuring that consumers have the information they need to make fully informed decisions regarding their health care.”

An email to Northside was not immediately returned.

Under rules finalized by the Trump administration, hospitals starting in January 2021 were required to disclose their privately negotiated charges with commercial health insurers as well as any discounted price for consumers paying cash.

The rates for at least 300 services had to be published in a consumer-friendly manner. Hospitals also had to publish all their charges in a format that could be read on the internet by other computer systems. That would allow web developers and consumer groups to come up with tools that patients and their families could use.

In addition to giving patients pricing information, the rules were intended to foster competition that could bring down prices.

The American Hospital Association opposed them, saying the disclosure of privately negotiated rates would not help patients understand what they would actually pay for treatment. It also argued that insurers could use the information to squeeze hospitals and hospitals needed to focus their resources on fighting the COVID pandemic.

In letters to Northside Atlanta and Northside Cherokee on Tuesday, CMS said the hospitals had failed to display “shoppable services in a consumer-friendly manner." CMS said they both had received a warning prior to the fine.

Instead of correcting the problem, Northside Atlanta told CMS in November that potential patients should request price estimates by calling a number or sending an email, according to CMS.

The hospitals can appeal.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services, AP Business - Health Care
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