Lawmaker: Choose Medicaid Expansion Over Health Transparency Database

Feb 19, 2016

A bill that would create greater transparency about health care costs is ready for consideration by the Florida House. Among other things, it requires hospitals and insurers to provide information that may help consumers make health care decisions based on cost and quality.
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The Internet allows savvy consumers to comparison shop for big ticket items. Those items may soon include medical procedures.

The Florida House is ready to consider a bill (HB 1175) that would enable consumers to see what hospitals around the state charge for similar surgeries and courses of treatment.


Under the bill, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration would oversee a database that contains cost information from hospitals, surgical centers and insurance companies.


But Rep. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, doesn’t think a database is the best way to deal with soaring health-care costs.


“For medical care, I wouldn’t necessarily shop for the lowest price. I mean, you want the best person to be doing the work,” Berman says.


She thinks the push for a database is related to the state’s refusal to accept federal dollars for Medicaid expansion. “The hospitals are treating the indigent people, and yet they're not getting any of the extra Medicaid dollars that we should be getting,” Berman says. “So I think that this whole hospital transparency thing is somewhat tied into that issue.”


Last year’s legislative session ended with the House and Senate unable to agree on using federal money to expand Medicaid to more low-income Floridians.


Soon after, Gov. Rick Scott created a commission to look into what he called hospital price gouging and make recommendations to lawmakers.


The Senate version of the bill has one more committee stop before going to the Senate floor.