Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio, Dayton Daily News, and The Columbus Dispatch
A group of physicians, hospitals, and other health care organizations have filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio to block a law requiring price disclosures to patients before they are given non-emergency treatment (Source: “Ohio Hospitals want to Overturn Price Disclosure Law,” Dayton Daily News, December 27, 2016).
According to the law which was to be effective January 1, before non-emergency services are rendered, a health care provider would have to give patients written estimates on how much their insurer will be billed for each procedure, test or service, how much their insurers will pay, and calculations for the patients’ out-of-pocket costs.
As was reported in the December 20, 2016, edition of the Weekly Family Medicine Update, all physicians and other health care organizations have stated “loudly and clearly” that the price transparency statute is unworkable, poorly written, confusing, ambiguous, and impossible to implement. The report of the Health Services Price Disclosure Study Committee is still unwritten and the rules to implement the statute are not promulgated. Fortunately, the statute contains no penalties for failing to adhere to the law.
Negotiations relative to how to amend the law to make it workable have been ongoing for 18 months with no agreed upon outcome to date; thus, the need for filing of the lawsuit requesting a temporary restraining order.
The bill’s sponsor, Representative Jim Butler (R-Oakwood, OH) countered that the health care lobby is resisting price transparency. “It is definitely not something that is impossible for them to carry out. They just don’t want to carry it out. That’s the problem,” Rep. Butler said.
In The Columbus Dispatch article published on January 6, Rep. Butler accused Governor John Kasich of “engaging in Putin-like rule” to overturn a state law on health care price transparency. He called for hiring outside counsel to defend the state against lawsuit.
In late December, Williams County Common Pleas Court Judge J.T. Stelzer issued a 30-day restraining order, blocking the law from taking effect January 1, and scheduled a hearing for January 20. The list of groups joining the lawsuit is extensive the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio State Medical Association, the Ohio Psychological Association, the Ohio Physical Therapy Association, the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and others. The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians is not a party in the lawsuit but has offered to file a friend of the court brief in support of the restraining order.
The Kasich administration declined to comment on the suit, saying it doesn’t talk about pending litigation.