Jul 29, 2019

Hospitals must post prices in new Trump administration proposal

A patient likely has no idea how much this blood draw costs. Photo: Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Starting in 2020, hospitals have to start publicly publishing the negotiated prices of procedures and tests they receive from health insurers, according to a proposed regulation from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Why it matters: Seeing the secretly negotiated amounts that private insurers actually pay for hospital care would shed light on the true cost of care. But some experts worry patients wouldn't know what to do with that information, and the disclosure could lead to lower-priced hospitals raising their rates.

Between the lines: CMS already requires hospitals to publish the list prices of their services, which don't reflect insurance discounts but do apply to people who are uninsured or receive care that is out-of-network.

  • But this proposal would go a lot further, by requiring all hospitals to show how much they get paid for at least 300 "shoppable" services, like imaging scans and scheduled surgeries, from every commercial insurer that has a contract with them.
  • The data has to be in a machine-readable format as well, which would help health care researchers.

Yes, but: Hospitals that don't comply with this requirement would face a maximum penalty of $300 per day, or about $110,000 per year.

  • That's a drop in the bucket for the largest hospital systems, raising questions about whether dominant organizations would follow the regulation.
  • But the fines would be tougher to swallow for smaller, rural facilities.

Go deeper: Washington's favorite health policy isn't a silver bullet

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Massive demonstrations put police response to unrest in the spotlight

Washington State Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd in Seattle during a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The response of some officers during demonstrations against police brutality in the U.S. has been criticized for being excessive by some officials and Black Lives Matter groups and leaders.

Why it matters: The situation is tense across the U.S., with reports of protesters looting and burning buildings. While some police have responded with restraint and by monitoring the protests, others have used batons, tear gas and other chemicals and devices to disperse protesters and, in some cases, journalists.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. cities crack down on protesters

The scene near the 5th police precinct during a demonstration calling for justice for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Saturday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.

Journalists get caught in the crosshairs as protests unfold

A man waves a Black Lives Matter flag atop the CNN logo during a protest in response to the police killing of George Floyd outside the CNN Center on May 29. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

Dozens of journalists across the country tweeted videos Saturday night of themselves and their crews getting arrested, being shot at by police with rubber bullets, targeted with tear gas by authorities or assaulted by protestors.

Why it matters: The incidents show how easy it can be for the media to entangled in the stories they cover, especially during a time of civil unrest.