Hospitals may soon have to post prices for patients online

Hospitals may soon have to post prices for patients online

Hospitals are already required to provide a list of their standard charges, but getting the information isn't always easy.

Whereas CMS intending to reduce regulatory burden will nearly always go over well among the regulated, requiring improved patient access to EHR data and making hospitals post their prices for more effective price transparency are, not surprisingly, thus far having a different impact.

It would also allow patients easier access to medical records.

The policy changes to the Meaningful Use program-which has been renamed the "Promoting Interoperability" program-were released in a proposed rule for the 2019 Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS) and the Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System, which includes an updated scoring methodology for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals that would start in 2019, as well as the use of 90-day electronic health record reporting periods in 2019 and 2020. But officials hope the changes will influence others in the USA health care system.

"We are removing a total of 19 measures and are de-duplicating another 21 measures while keeping the focus where it should be-on reducing harm and creating better health outcomes for patients", said Verma. "These proposed rules are just the beginning of our plans to move to a value-based system and as we make this transition our administration is empowering patients because patients should be at the center of cost and quality decisions".

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It would eliminate a significant number of criteria acute care hospitals are now required to report and it would remove duplicative measures across the five-hospital quality and value-based purchasing programs.

CMS administrator Seema Verma said the regulations are part of an effort to make sure patients are put first in health care. However, listed prices wouldn't reflect what insurers and government programs would cover, so patients would still need to take that additional step on their own to calculate out-of-pocket costs.

"The proposed rule overhauls the meaningful use program to make it work for providers and be more beneficial for patients", said Verma. "We want comments to make sure we're striking the right balance". With a May 25, 2018 deadline, CMS is also seeking input on the direct provider contracting between payers and primary care or multi-specialty groups for a potential test of a direct provider contracting within Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid.

IPPS payments would increase drastically more than LTCH payments, according to CMS. Specifically, CMS is looking for suggestions about how patients can compare this cost information from provider to provider.

In the proposed rule, CMS is requesting stakeholder feedback through a Request for Information on the possibility of revising Conditions of Participation to revive interoperability as a way to increase electronic sharing of data by hospitals.

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