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Hospital list prices matter

David Goldman / AP

Hospital chargemasters shouldn't be written off as irrelevant, a new Health Affairs study says. Those opaque lists of what hospitals charge for every procedure and service dictate levels of revenue and profit and often have no relationship to the quality of care. However, hospitals and private health insurers negotiate payment and networks based on the list price, and high list prices could "strengthen hospitals' bargaining positions," the study says.

Hospitals have defended their pricing practices vigorously and have argued chargemaster prices don't matter since most people don't pay that amount. However, uninsured and out-of-network patients are subject to those list prices, as the New York Times' Elisabeth Rosenthal has reported. And as the Health Affairs authors point out: "List prices reflect hospitals' strategic behavior and have meaningful effects on payments made by and on behalf of patients."

Flashback: Hospital chargemasters hit the national spotlight in 2013 when Axios contributor Steven Brill wrote about them in his Time cover story.

Steve LeVine 6 hours ago
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Self-driving lab head urges freeze after "nightmare" fatality

Uber self-driving car in Pittsburgh. Photo: Jeff Swensen / Getty

Carmakers and technology companies should freeze their race to field autonomous vehicles because "clearly the technology is not where it needs to be," said Raj Rajkumar, head of Carnegie Mellon University's leading self-driving laboratory.

What he said: Speaking a few hours after a self-driven vehicle ran over and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Rajkumar said, "This isn't like a bug with your phone. People can get killed. Companies need to take a deep breath. The technology is not there yet. We need to keep people in the loop."

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Trump, Sessions & GOP lawmakers to meet about sanctuary cities

Jeff Sessions claps behind Donald Trump's blurry profile at a speech
Attorney General Jeff Sesssions, Donald Trump, Melania Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan / Getty

The White House is hosting a roundtable on sanctuary cities Tuesday afternoon with the President, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security, Republican lawmakers and others, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Conservatives tried to use this week’s massive government spending bill to cut federal funds from sanctuary cities, but they failed, according to sources involved in the process. But Trump officials want to use Tuesday’s event to highlight the issue and put pressure on cities that don't comply with federal immigration law enforcement.