A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a White House-backed rule requiring hospitals to disclose the prices they negotiate with insurers for a series of common tests and procedures.
The 2-0 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is a victory for President Donald Trump's attempt to make health care pricing more transparent so that patients can be better informed when deciding on treatment.
The American Hospital Association and other hospital groups had challenged the rule, which was enacted in November 2019 and is scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2021.
They said it would require them to allocate scarce resources, including the fight against COVID-19, to the & # 39; Herculean & # 39; a costly task of compounding healthcare costs while reducing competition and creating confusion about patients' out-of-pocket expenses.
However, Trash Judge David Tatel said he was concerned about the charges "miss the mark," noting the findings of Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar that larger disclosures would and likely benefit the "vast majority" of consumers. result in lower – not higher – prices.
"The secretary weighed the costs and benefits of the rule and reached a reasonable judgment that the benefits of easing the burden on consumers justified the additional burden on hospitals," wrote Tatel.
Melinda Hatton, the general counsel for the American Hospital Association, said the group was disappointed and hopes the new Biden government will overhaul the rule and exercise “freedom of enforcement” until the pandemic runs its course.
Azar praised the decision. “Big win for US patients,” he wrote on Twitter. "From January 1, Americans will have access to the actual prices paid for the most common hospital services."
Patients have long complained about receiving surprise medical bills after treatment.
Tuesday's decision upheld a June 23 ruling by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported the hospital groups, saying the rule could cause hospitals to charge higher prices for their services if they saw other hospitals charge more.
The case is American Hospital Association et al v Azar, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-5193.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; edited by Dan Grebler and Jonathan Oatis)
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