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Ohio hospital price transparency bill easily passes House

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(The Center Square) – Ohio moved a step closer to creating what advocates call the country’s strongest hospital price transparency law.

The legislation moves to the Senate after passing the House by a 90-5 vote, despite objections by the Ohio Hospital Association and the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association.

“For far too long, consumers and patients have had to make significant financial decisions due to a lack of transparency regarding the costs of services provided by hospital systems,” said Rep. Tim Barhorst, R-Fort Loramie. “To me, it’s common sense. Ohioans should be able to see how much they will pay before making medical decisions.”

PatientRightsAdvocate.org, a national nonprofit pushing for health care transparency across the nation, said 24.5% of hospitals it reviewed nationwide comply with a 2021 federal law that requires all hospitals to make prices fully known to patients before treatment.

The group also said 18% of Ohio hospitals are compliant, and 60 hospitals in the state are not.

Cynthia Fisher, founder and chairman of PatientRightsAdvocate.org, called the House-passed bill the strongest in the country.

“We thank and applaud the Ohio House of Representatives for its overwhelming bipartisan support of HB49, the strongest bill of its kind in the nation,” Fisher said. “Health care price transparency empowers patients to greatly lower their costs through upfront prices and choice. It protects all consumers from hospital overcharging and gives them easy recourse if overbilled. HB49 will incentivize hospitals to comply by allowing patients to avoid paying bills from hospitals that hide their prices.”

In committee testimony, the hospital associations called the bill inconsistent with federal law and said Ohio hospitals remain committed to providing useful and meaningful pricing information.

In written testimony, the hospital groups said, “We appreciate the bill sponsors’ intention to codify federal law to ensure Ohio hospitals are in full compliance – and believe there is a path forward to reach that shared goal. It was our hope to work with members of the House toward achieving the bill’s objectives without creating a duplicative, complex and costly state regulatory regime.”

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