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Tue, June 18

Health care costs must be published under new law

KINGMAN - Patients will soon know just how much it'll cost to have common medical procedures done, such as a gall bladder removal or a stent put in.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed a health care pricing and reimbursement transparency bill into law last week.

"Today, Arizonans have little or no information about the actual cost of different medical procedures," Brewer said. "This common-sense legislation will make the price of health care services available to patients. It also will ensure that the price (the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System) pays for services is based on the quality of care patients receive rather than simply the number of days they stayed in the hospital."

House Bill 2045 requires hospitals to post the cost of the 50 most commonly used inpatient and outpatient services at their facilities starting Oct. 1, 2014. Physicians are required to list the cost of their top 25 most used services. The price list can be posted online or in another format, as long as it is easy to read and understand.

The bill also revamped AHCCCS' reimbursement system for hospitals. Starting Oct. 1, 2014, hospitals will now be reimbursed based on how a patient is diagnosed and treated, rather than how long a patient stays in the hospital.

The bill will have little impact on local hospitals, because many of them are already following similar requirements set down by the federal Affordable Care Act and changes to Medicare.

The federal government's online Hospital Compare system allows Medicare patients to compare services, costs and quality of care between area hospitals. Medicare also switched to a diagnosis reimbursement model that penalizes hospitals if a patient has to be readmitted to the hospital after having certain types of procedures.

Kingman Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Jamie Taylor said the hospital is already working on getting its pricing information on its website.

"We believe that consumers need accurate, timely and useful information to help them when making decisions on their healthcare," said Brian Turney, KRMC's CEO. "This is one of several attempts at both the national and state level to help provide that information. It remains to be seen how successful this tool will be."

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