Judge dismisses hospital challenge to price transparency rule

The Washington D.C. U.S. District Court judge rejected a claim by AHA and other groups that the rule would undermine competition and violate their rights.

A federal judge has dismissed an attempt to halt the implementation of a Trump administration rule forcing hospitals to disclose prices negotiated with insurers.

According to a Reuters report, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols dismissed a challenge to the rule filed by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and other hospital groups claiming that the rule would undermine competitions and violate their First Amendment rights.

In dismissing the challenge, Nichols says that the rule is reasonably related to the government’s interest in lowering healthcare costs and providing pricing data in an attempt to allow patients to make informed decisions about their care, the report says.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar touted the court victory as a step toward lowering healthcare costs.

“With today’s decision, we will continue delivering on the President’s promise to give patients easy access to healthcare prices,” Azar says. “Especially when American patients are seeking care during a nationwide public health emergency, it is more important than ever that they have ready access to the actual prices of healthcare services.”

In a statement, AHA General Counsel Melinda Hatton said the association intends to appeal the ruling.

“We are disappointed in today’s decision in favor of the administration’s flawed proposal to mandate disclosure of privately negotiated rates,” Hatton says. “The proposal does nothing to help patients understand their out-of-pocket costs. It also imposes significant burdens on hospitals at a time when resources are stretched thin and need to be devoted to patient care. Hospitals and health systems have consistently supported efforts to provide patients with information about the costs of their medical care. This is not the right way to achieve this important goal.”

As previously reported, the rule will be implemented Jan. 1 and require hospitals to make public charges for 300 shoppable services available to patients in a “consumer-friendly” manner. CMS will identify 70 services which must be published, and the hospital will choose the other 230.

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