The website launch comes in the midst of oral arguments in an appeal from the American Hospital Association (AHA) and hospital groups to overturn the rule requiring hospitals to disclose confidential negotiated charges with insurers. Arguments were heard last week by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. The AHA faced questions regarding the reasonableness of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) statutory interpretation of the Affordable Care Act which HHS cited as the authority for the final rule. The government offered little legal support regarding its statutory authority, instead citing benefits for patients in its arguments. The AHA is pushing for a swift turn around in the court’s decision in order to provide clarity to hospitals regarding the regulation.
The current regulation is effective on January 1, 2021. By that date, all hospitals, including rural and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), must provide pricing information online about the items and services they provide. This information must include a machine-readable file with all items and services as well as a display of shoppable services in a consumer-friendly format that displays discounted cash prices, payer specific negotiated charges, and de-identified minimum and maximum negotiated charges. CMS has made an FAQ and other resource documents available to hospitals on the website.