New price transparency rules for hospitals

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Hospitals will be required to release a standard list of prices for their medical services under a new rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Instituted as part of the Affordable Care Act, the requirement can also be fulfilled if hospitals allow the public access to the data after an inquiry, the CMS said.

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The program was outlined in a wide-ranging, nearly 1,700-page regulation on inpatient hospital payments released to lawmakers and the public on Wednesday night.

ObamaCare contains several policies to encourage greater price transparency in healthcare on the logic that better informed consumers will help drive down irrational medical charges.

Hospital pricing is notoriously variable, as the administration confirmed in a May 2013 release of data on what hospitals charge for common in-patient services.

Even within the same geographic area, the cost of a common medical procedure could vary by thousands of dollars, the data showed. The CMS also released data this month on how much Medicare paid individual doctors in 2012.

In its rule, the CMS proposed to raise reimbursement by 1.3 percent for general acute care hospitals and by 0.8 percent for long-term care hospitals.

The agency also outlined plans to implement the Affordable Care Act's program to reduce hospital-acquired infections.

The regulations would also ramp up separate ObamaCare programs on value-based purchasing and reducing hospital readmissions. Read the whole rule here