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CMS proposes rule to increase price transparency, access to care, safety and health equity

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | July 20, 2021
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing actions to address the health equity gap, ensure consumers have the information they need to make fully informed decisions regarding their health care, improve emergency care access in rural communities, and use lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to inform patient care and quality measurements.

In accordance with President Biden’s Competition Executive Order, CMS is further strengthening its efforts to increase price transparency, holding hospitals accountable and ensuring consumers have the information they need to make fully informed decisions regarding their health care.

“As President Biden made clear in his executive order promoting competition, a key to price fairness is price transparency,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “No medical entity should be able to throttle competition at the expense of patients. I have fought anti-competitive practices before, and strongly believe health care must be in reach for everyone. With today’s proposed rule, we are simply showing hospitals through stiffer penalties: concealing the costs of services and procedures will not be tolerated by this Administration.”

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“CMS is committed to addressing significant and persistent inequities in health outcomes in the United States and today’s proposed rule helps us achieve that by improving data collection to better measure and analyze disparities across programs and policies,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “We are committed to finding opportunities to meet the health needs of patients and consumers where they are, whether it’s by expanding access to onsite care in their communities, ensuring they have access to clear information about health care costs, or enhancing patient safety.”

The proposed rule includes the following actions:

Price Transparency

Hospital price transparency helps Americans know what a hospital charges for the items and services they provide. CMS takes seriously concerns it has heard from consumers that hospitals are not making clear, accessible pricing information available online, as they have been required to do since January 1, 2021.

CMS proposes to increase the penalty for some hospitals that do not comply with Hospital Price Transparency final rule. Specifically, CMS is proposing to set a minimum civil monetary penalty of $300/day that would apply to smaller hospitals with a bed count of 30 or fewer and apply a penalty of $10/bed/day for hospitals with a bed count greater than 30, not to exceed a maximum daily dollar amount of $5,500. Under this proposed approach, for a full calendar year of noncompliance, the minimum total penalty amount would be $109,500 per hospital, and the maximum total penalty amount would be $2,007,500 per hospital.

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