The Maine House of Representatives has passed a bill that will force hospitals to comply with federal price transparency requirements.
The bill, LD 953, “An Act to Protect Maine Patients Regarding Hospital Price Transparency,” was sponsored by Rep. Laurel Libby (R-Auburn) and co-sponsored by Sen. Stacy Brenner (D-Scarborough).
“Consumers have a right to know what they’re being charged,” said Rep. Libby. “[LD] 953 would further encourage compliance on the part of the healthcare facilities by preventing collection of non-payment from patients if the hospital is not in compliance with transparency requirements.”
Blocking the ability to collect unpaid bills would create a financial incentive for Maine’s hospitals to align their transparency practices with federal requirements.
The federal transparency requirements were finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in November of 2019, following a directive in an Executive Order signed by then-President Donald Trump.
The HHS rules require hospitals to publish a machine-readable list of all standard charges for all items and services, and a consumer-friendly list of standard charges for certain shoppable services.
Several other states, most recently Colorado, have passed similar price transparency legislation in response to an estimated 24.5 percent of hospitals being in compliance with the regulations.
As of April 2023, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued more than 730 warning notices and 269 requests for corrective actions plans (CAPs) to hospitals not in compliance with the transparency rules, and have imposed civil monetary penalties on four noncompliant hospitals.
“Providing direct recourse for Maine citizens is the best mechanism by which to ensure compliance,” Libby said. “As Maine citizens continue to struggle to pay ever increasing healthcare costs, improving our statewide compliance with the federal rules will empower Mainers to make educated and informed healthcare decisions.”
The bill passed the House by a vote of 75-67 and was headed for the Senate Tuesday afternoon.