Wisconsin Republicans Introduce Hospital Cost Transparency Bill

A group of Republican state lawmakers is introducing a plan that they say would force Wisconsin hospitals to be more transparent about how much they’re charging for procedures.

The plan¬†introduced by state Sen. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, and other GOP lawmakers would require hospitals to keep a list on their website of 300 “shoppable services,” or nonemergency procedures they provide. The plan would ban hospitals from charging for the information or requiring people to set up user accounts to read it.

The state’s Department of Health Services would be in charge of enforcing the requirement. If hospitals don’t comply, DHS could fine smaller facilities up to $600 per day. Larger hospitals, those with more than 550 beds, could get hit with daily fines of $10,000.

“Health care is the only thing Wisconsinites purchase that we don’t know the price of beforehand,” Felzkowski said Wednesday at a state Capitol news conference introducing the plan. “And that has to change.”

Felzkowski argued the new state requirement is necessary because the federal government isn’t enforcing compliance with its health transparency requirement.

“It’s time that the state stepped up and started looking out for our constituents around the cost of health care,” Felzkowski said. “And that’s what this bill does.”

Felzkowski said the proposal could be used by employers to comparison shop insurance plans for their workers. She said it could also be used by people to compare prices for procedures, like a mammogram.