To ensure that D.C. hospitals follow the law for new federal pricing guidelines, the city’s attorney general this week called on 11 hospitals throughout the District to fully comply with regulations that went into effect earlier this year.
According to Attorney General Karl Racine’s office, the goal is to make the pricing of medical services more transparent and accessible to consumers.
“When consumers need critical medical care, they should know exactly what that care will cost them – and it’s up to hospitals to work in consumers’ best interest to make that pricing easily available,” Racine said in a statement Wednesday. “We want to make sure District hospitals are complying with new federal regulations that require hospitals to be more transparent with consumers about the cost of services … especially as health care costs continue to rise and news reports have detailed some hospitals across the country purposely hiding prices from consumers, it is essential for our hospitals to be clear and direct about their costs.”
A copy of the letter Racine sent to hospitals, in which he details how they are to abide by the new regulations, states that his office is committed to ensuring that consumers seeking medical treatment have accurate and complete information about the services they require.
“As one example, after learning of serious inaccuracies in mental health directories, in 2018, OAG entered into settlements with several health insurance companies to ensure that consumers have accurate information about mental health care providers,” the letter states. “We know that price transparency is a serious concern for consumers,” the letter states. “Consumers seeking medical treatment often have little, if any, information about the price of services they are told they require. This lack of price transparency not only creates anxiety for consumers, who are already facing stressful medical situations, but it also has been shown to increase health costs generally.”
Meanwhile, the lack of price transparency has also been shown to increase health care costs generally, Racine’s office said, adding that the attorney general’s outreach to the hospitals follows news reports that several hospitals throughout the country including those in D.C., failed to comply with the federal hospital pricing transparency regulations.