Medical bill Hospitals argue thatnegotiated rates vary from one insurer to another, and creating onelist with all of the unique charges would be overly burdensome.(Photo: Shutterstock)

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Despite the current chaos in our health care system, reformefforts–and counter-efforts–march on. A U.S. District Court onThursday heard arguments from the American HospitalAssociation and other industry groups challenging the Health andHuman Services Department's much-hyped price transparency rule,currently on track to take effect in January 2021.

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The rule would require hospitals to post negotiated rates forvarious procedures, giving consumers a clearer idea of how muchtheir care will cost. Hospitals argue that the rule creates anundue burden, is a violation of their First Amendment rights anddoesn't fall within the power of the HHS to enforce.

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Related: Negotiated hospital rates in crosshairs of Trumpadministration

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Cate Stetson, an attorney advocating on behalf of the healthsystems argued that negotiated rates are a private matter betweenthe health system and health insurers and they should not becompelled to make it public. Moreover, because these negotiationsvary from one insurer to another, creating one list with all of theunique charges would be overly burdensome.

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U.S. Department of Justice Attorney Michael Baer countered bypointing out that the rule was in the public's best interest anddrive market competition.

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"Patients deserve to know how much it's going to cost when theyget hospital care," Baer said. "They deserve to know before they open amedical bill or before they choose where they want to receivecare."

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The judge did not side with either party during the hearing butis expected to rule quickly, given the January 2021 implementationdate.

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Emily Payne

Emily Payne is director, content analytics for ALM's Business & Finance Markets and former managing editor for BenefitsPRO. A Wisconsin native, she has spent the past decade writing and editing for various athletic and fitness publications. She holds an English degree and Business certificate from the University of Wisconsin.