Hospital non-compliance with the price transparency rules that took effect 18 months ago was probably the worst-kept secret in the healthcare world. Now, after repeated warnings, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is finally taking action, dishing out civil monetary penalties (CMPs) to a pair of Georgia health system hospitals for failing to update their websites or reply to agency warning letters.
And we’re not talking just a slap on the wrist. Price transparency violations carry a penalty of up to $300 per day, based on the hospital’s size and how many days its website was out of compliance, with the total amount subject to appeal. In the case of the Georgia hospitals, the CMPs were:
Price transparency rules require hospitals to post a comprehensive machine-readable list of what they charge for services, enabling consumers to shop and compare prices. After fighting them tooth and nail, hospitals have failed to embrace the rules. In addition to considering their prices to be proprietary information, hospitals have determined that, at least in some cases, it would actually cost less to pay the CMPs than spend the money to reconfigure their website. So, CMS jacked up the penalties and, in April, began issuing warning letters asking noncompliant hospitals to submit a corrective action plan for their websites. As of June, CMS has issued warning letters to 352 hospitals, of which 157 remain noncompliant, according to an agency spokesperson.