Call it a victory for healthcare price transparency. The Trump administration can keep its rule requiring hospitals to disclose the prices they privately negotiate with insurance companies, a federal district court held.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Tuesday rejected hospital industry groups’ claims that the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule that was arbitrary and capricious, exceeded its rulemaking authority, and violated the First Amendment by mandating speech that fails to directly advance a substantial government interest.
The court instead granted the Trump administration’s motion for summary judgment. It upheld the rule, which is a policy the administration has been pushing in an effort to shine a light on hospital pricing.
Azar Celebrates Ruling
The rule requires some 6,000 U.S. hospitals to publicly provide their negotiated rates with insurers for 300 common medical services, along with the discounted cash price they’re willing to accept for those procedures.
The American Hospital Association said it will appeal and seek an expedited review of the ruling.
In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, HHS Secretary Alex Azar called the ruling a big victory for the president’s health-care agenda.
“With this decision, we will continue to deliver on President Donald Trump’s promise for ‘A+’ transparency and lower costs for American patients,” he said.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma also tweeted to assail the litigation.
“This was a disingenuous self-serving lawsuit designed to keep patients in the dark,” she tweeted.
Patient Rights Advocate.Org, a group fighting for price transparency in health care, said the court’s ruling forces hospitals to compete on quality, performance, and at the best price just like any other business.
“It’s overwhelmingly in support of common sense that all Americans deserve the right to see prices to be in control of their health care decisions,” Cynthia Fisher, the group’s founder and chair, said in an interview. “The judge ruled in favor of all of us.”
Competition in a functional marketplace drives down costs and improves quality, Fisher said.
“We’ve seen it in technology, we see it in groceries, we see it in retail, we see it in airlines, we’ve seen it in every other facet of our lives, and now we’re going to be able to see it in health care,” she said.