ACR opposes bill calling for medical imaging price transparency in hospitals

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 01, 2023
The American College of Radiology is opposed to a new bill that calls for hospitals to disclose the pricing of medical imaging services.
A new bill introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Carey (R.-OH) that would require providers to disclose pricing for medical imaging services has attracted the ire of the American College of Radiology, which says that it “prioritizes price over quality.”

Under the Imaging Services Price Transparency Act, which was introduced on July 25, hospitals and healthcare systems would have to make public the cost of X-ray, MR, and CT scans. The bill is part of the Ways and Means Committee’s Health Care Price Transparency Act, which calls for codifying certain parts of the Hospital Price Transparency Rule that went into effect in early 2021. These include requiring hospitals to publish machine-readable files of standard charges and providing a list of at least 300 shoppable services.

“Our legislation makes it easier for consumers to know in advance the cost of an X-ray or CT scan. This will go a long way to ensuring that hard-working Americans are not blindsided by medical costs,” said Carey in a statement.
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In its current form, ACR says the bill fails to take into account quality factors such as facility accreditation, updated and well-maintained equipment, and the expertise of the physician interpreting the study.

“The College believes there are adequate price transparency policies in place, and medical service prices will continue to be available through existing policies. ACR will continue to work with the Ways and Means Committee toward a solution that accomplishes the goal of transparency without adversely affecting the public’s access to timely and quality imaging services,” said ACR in a statement.

The House Ways and Means Committee passed the Health Care Price Transparency Act on July 26 in a vote of 25-16, with Republican members championing it while Democrats opposed it because it does not address transparency among private equity or Medicare Advantage plans, according to Axios.

"We have no choice but to vote against this bill because it does not match its title," said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, ranking member of the Health subcommittee.

The American Hospital Association has also taken issue with the legislation, as under it hospitals would no longer be able to use price estimator tools to complete the shoppable services requirement following the enactment of the No Surprises Act Advanced Explanation of Benefit policies, which would require patients be informed of the cost of their care in advance.

“Requiring hospitals with price estimator tools to invest time and resources in creating a shoppable service list, in addition to complying with the AEOB, is a move in the wrong direction,” AHA wrote.

It also opposes the additional site-neutral payment cuts and regulatory burdens the law would place on off-campus hospital outpatient departments and Medicare sequester cuts on hospitals.

A second bill that the AHA opposes, the Providers and Payers COMPETE Act, also passed, and if enacted, will require the Department of Health and Human Services to compile an annual report on how Medicare regulations may be impacting consolidation among providers and payers.

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