Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) helped lead today’s House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on how to drive down the rising cost of health care. She was glad to welcome Pullman Regional Hospital CEO Matt Forge to testify before the subcommittee and share the importance of price transparency as it relates to supporting effective health care decision making.
Highlights and excerpts from Cathy’s opening statement as prepared for delivery:
Driving Down Health Care Costs
“Today we are examining in a bipartisan way how to drive down the costs of health care. This is a top concern as the cost of living has surged.
“More than 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. It means they are just one medical bill away from a financial emergency. One doctor visit away from not being able to pay their rent, for their groceries, or gas.
“For a more secure and healthier future, people need more certainty and stability.”
“Improving price transparency in our health care system is one way we can drive down costs. It’s foundational to restoring the doctor-patient relationship.
“Right now, it is nearly impossible for patients or their employers to shop for the best and most affordable care they or their employees need.
“It is nearly impossible for people to plan ahead and budget for their health care costs.
“Patients shouldn’t be in the dark until after they receive care and after their bills come.
“The Trump administration finalized two rules on price transparency.
“The first rule requires hospitals to post standard charges and payer-specific rates for all items and services and a consumer-friendly display of at least three-hundred shoppable services like an MRI.
“The second rule requires insurers to post comprehensive rate information and provide patients personalized pricing information for five-hundred items and services.
“We will hear from a hospital in my district—that is transparent and in compliance with the rules—about their experience and why we should have reasonable expectations that other hospitals should be able to comply with these rules.
“Eastern Washington employers have also been on the forefront of utilizing price transparency for good. Schweitzer Engineering Labs in my district, one of the largest private employers in Eastern Washington, has been a leader in utilizing price transparency to deliver better quality care at lower prices.
“We know from stories like these that, if fully implemented, these rules will help Americans.”
Highlights and excerpts from Pullman Regional Hospital CEO Matt Forge’s full testimony:
“Pullman Regional Hospital is a 25-bed critical access hospital nestled in the wheat fields of Eastern Washington in Pullman, WA. Originally on the campus of Washington State University, Pullman Regional opened its doors to a new 95,000 square-foot-facility in 2004, about two miles away from campus.
“Our journey as a transparent organization started before federal requirements. As a community hospital close to two Universities we serve an educated population and value being a patient-focused provider of healthcare that helps our patients make educated decisions.
“In 2019 we published a price estimation tool, list of patient prices and a charge description master portal on our transparency webpage. Our goal was to make these tools simple enough to understand but comprehensive enough to be thorough.
“Keeping information up-to-date as rules and regulations change is a continual work in progress, but Pullman Regional Hospital is committed to helping our community make educated decisions about their healthcare.
“Pulling together pricing information and comparing ourselves in the regional market identified several services that were priced much higher than our competitors; this gave us the opportunity to investigate how we lower our costs for medical devices and components so that we could pass that savings to patients.
“This journey of transparency hasn’t been easy and it will continue to be a work in progress.
“As we continue to work towards simplifying the healthcare experience for our patients and providing transparency in pricing we too seek simplification in keeping up with changing regulations for pricing transparency and look forward to working together on these goals.”
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