Hospital bill transparency law would be a compromise

By Steve Hansen

QCS Managing Editor

A bill passed by the New Mexico Senate on Friday would  allow data about hospital costs and the outcomes of medical procedures  to be made public on the state’s “Sunshine Portal” website http://sunshineportalnm.com.

The bill is a compromise between one proposed by Think New Mexico, a state “think tank” and the New Mexico Hospital Association.

Think New Mexico’s bill proposed “complete transparency” in hospital billing and quality measures, while the New Mexico Hospital Association supported a transparency bill that would not involve excessive staff time for hospitals and the state department of health, and place no new reporting burden on hospitals.

Lance Labine, administrator of the Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital in Tucumcari, said Presbyterian Healthcare Services, which operates the hospital, “supports pricing and quality transparency in healthcare.”

The plan, however, should be “useful to consumer decision-making, not unduly burdensome on providers, cost-effective, sustainable and inclusive of all providers and payers,” he said.

Presbyterian has been working with the hospital association to develop the bill that the state senate passed on Friday.

Currently, Labine said,  Presbyterian patients who have questions about amounts they may be charged on hospital bills can call a toll-free phone number (855) 225-7737 to speak with a representative.

The impact of increased transparency on pricing and hospital relations with health insurers “remains to be seen,” Labine said.  “We hope these efforts will help patients in Tucumcari, and throughout New Mexico, better understand the quality and cost of their medical care.”

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