Groups support appeal of decision on disclosure of negotiated charges

In a friend-of-the-court brief supporting an appeal by AHA and other hospital groups, 40 state and regional hospital associations today urged the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., to reverse the lower court’s decision and void the Department of Health and Human Services final rule requiring hospitals to disclose their confidential privately negotiated charges with insurers.

The lower court last month upheld the rule, despite calling it a “close call.” AHA, joined by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Children’s Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals and several member hospitals, quickly appealed the decision, telling the court that the rule rests on a manifestly unreasonable statutory interpretation by the agency of Section 2718(e) of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

In today’s brief, the state and regional hospital associations say their member hospitals “know better than anyone how important it is for patients to make informed health care choices” and strongly support meaningful price transparency” for that reason. “But this Court need not decide whether the Final Rule is ‘sound polic[y].’ The only question for this Court is one of administrative law, i.e. ‘whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner.’ HHS did not do so here. It instead chose to achieve its laudable goals in unlawful ways. To make matters worse, HHS’s Final Rule will impose inordinate burdens on health systems across the United States without a corresponding benefit to consumers. Amici’s member hospitals are experiencing those burdens today—in the midst of a global pandemic. Right now, they are required to spend precious dollars and staff-hours to comply with a rule that far exceeds HHS’s statutory authority and still does not advance the ultimate goal of price transparency: to allow consumers to determine their out-of-pocket payment obligations for health care services.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Healthcare Financial Management Association also plan to file supportive amicus briefs in the appeal. Their briefs also will be posted later on the AHA’s litigation webpage.