On March 16, Ohio Academy of Family Physicians Executive Vice President Ann Spicer attended the physician associations’ quarterly meeting with Ohio Department of Medicaid Director John McCarthy. During that meeting, Director McCarthy provided an update on health care price transparency.
Director McCarthy indicated that the report of the Health Services Price Disclosure Study Committee still has not been written. The committee met at the end of 2015 and agreed to file a report stating the currently enacted price transparency statute is unworkable, not feasible, and the effort should be abandoned.
The provision of the law in question would require physicians and other health care professionals to offer, upon request, a good faith cost estimate at the time of service for all non-emergency services provided to the patient. The bill (as enacted) established, under the Office of Health Transformation, a Health Services Price Disclosure Study Committee, and required that committee to study and issue a report with recommendations on the impact and feasibility of requiring physicians and other health care professionals to provide cost estimates at the time the service is delivered.
Despite the anticipated recommendation of the committee, short of enactment of legislation to abandon the price transparency requirement, the Ohio Medicaid director is legally required to promulgate rules to implement the legislation by Friday, July 1. That process has yet to occur.
Director McCarthy repeatedly stated during the meeting that he is not against price transparency, but that any requirement regarding transparency must be feasible for physicians and hospitals to implement.
Legislators see the need for improved health care price transparency, but don’t necessarily understand how complex and difficult it is to make it happen. Director McCarthy warned that the issue is not going to go away and some steps are going to have to be taken to satisfy legislators.
OAFP President Tom Houston, MD, recently authored a letter–to-the-editor that was published in The Columbus Dispatch.
Director McCarthy indicated that he had seen Dr. Houston’s letter-to-the-editor and understood the points made. The OAFP supports repeal of the current price transparency language. It is anticipated that the report of the Health Services Price Disclosure Study Committee will do so as well, but will likely try to suggest some practical, incremental changes to satisfy legislators.