Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Scott Not Backing off Hospitals

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Scott Not Backing off Hospitals

Article excerpt

Capital Comment

Gov. Rick Scott has stepped up his fight with Florida hospitals, announcing he wants the hospitals to disclose more information about the prices they charge and he wants to give consumers a way to contest those charges.

Scott's proposal, which will be joined by recommendations being developed by the governor's Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding, will be an issue in the 2016 Legislature, which begins in January.

Scott's proposal isn't fully developed but he said he wants hospitals to post their prices for procedures and average payments as well as financial reports for nonprofit hospitals on their websites. Additionally, he said he wants consumers who believe they have been unfairly overcharged to have access to a "third-party" review.

Scott's renewed scrutiny of hospital finances is related to the ongoing debate over state funding for hospitals that will be part of the 2016 session as lawmakers again grapple with declining federal funding for a program that compensates hospitals with large caseloads of uninsured patients.

An independent report from Johns Hopkins University and Washington and Lee

University, which was published in the June issue of Health Affairs, adds credibility to Scott's claim that Florida are overcharging some patients.

The academic study cited 50 hospitals in the United States with "the highest markup of prices over their actual costs," charging out- of-network patients, the uninsured and others more than 10 times the costs allowed by Medicare. Twenty of the hospitals, or 40 percent, were in Florida, led by the North Okaloosa Medical Center in the Panhandle.

But while Scott often saves his sharpest criticism for nonprofit hospitals, which he believes have an unfair competitive advantage over the taxpaying facilities, the academic study showed 98 percent of the highest markups belong to for-profit hospitals in the group of 50. …

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