HHS Awards California $5.2M To Create Health Care Pricing Database
HHS has awarded the California Department of Insurance a $5.2 million grant to establish a database that will collect and disseminate health care pricing information to state residents, Payers & Providers reports (Shinkman, Payers & Providers, 9/26).
Background on HHS Grants
In May, CMS released data for the 100 most common inpatient procedures at U.S. hospitals. It found that hospitals nationwide charge Medicare "wildly differing" amounts -- sometimes 10 to 20 times what Medicare typically reimburses -- for the same procedures.
CMS' release of the data was part of an effort by the federal government to increase transparency in the health care system.
In response, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced an $87 million initiative to help states create "health care data pricing centers" to help local governments analyze and publish research on health care prices (California Healthline, 5/8).
Details of California Database
According to Payers & Providers, DOI will work with an academic or not-for-profit institution to develop the database. The institution has yet to be named.
The database will compile and distribute pricing information and categorize it by episode of care. Consumers then will be able to use the database to compare the cost and quality of different providers.
Reaction From Insurance Commissioner
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) said, "Providing consumers greater access to medical provider pricing before they seek care could be a real game changer," adding that "consumers still face significant out-of-pocket medical costs" and do not yet have a way to obtain comprehensive pricing information (Payers & Providers, 9/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.