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Brewer signs hospital price transparency bill

AHCCCS expansion on the ropes after federal matching funds decision

Gov. Jan Brewer today signed a bill designed to increase transparency in cost of common services by hospitals. She had vetoed a similar bill earlier this year.

The bill, HB2045, sponsored by Rep. Heather Carter of Cave Creek, requires health care providers, hospitals and health care facilities to prices for common procedures and services. The list of prices must be updated at least annually. The new law will take effect September 11.

Physicians will be required to provide the price of their 25 most commonly used services. Large hospitals will have to post the prices of their 50 most common inpatient and outpatient services.

Brewer vetoed an earlier version of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Barto. The governor wrote in her veto letter that while she supports price transparency in the health care system, she was “concerned about the practical and potential legal implications of the bill.”

Specifically, Brewer said the definition of a health care facility was overly broad and included facilities that don’t serve the general public and may not charge a cash price for services. Brewer also requested that the Veterans Administration facilities, Indian Health Services hospitals and clinics and others be exempt from the mandate because they do not serve the general public.

She also said language of the previous bill could impede the Arizona Medical Board’s ability to effectively investigate complaints and discipline doctors for billing abuses and excessive fees.

Some at the Capitol chalked Brewer’s veto up to Barto’s opposition to Medicaid expansion, and thought the provisions of the bill would have a better chance if proposed by a supporter of the governor’s plan, such as Carter. All three parties said that was not the case.

Barto said she made clarifying changes that the governor asked for in her veto letter, and she expected Brewer to approve the legislation on the second time around.

“Any concerns that she has I think she’ll be fine with at this point,” Barto said when the bill went up for a vote from the Senate.

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