By Consumers for Quality Care, on May 10, 2023
Bronx rapper Fat Joe is using his voice on Capitol Hill to raise awareness for more price transparency in hospital billing, according to ABC News.
Fat Joe partnered with health care nonprofit organization Power to the Patients last year to bring attention to medical debt and medical billing practices. Since then, he has been speaking out against medical debt, an issue that affects 100 million Americans, according to Kaiser Health News.
“I look at myself as an evangelist, spreading the word gospel of how important it is to show us the prices,” Fat Joe said. “[T]his is an issue that affects all Americans. This is colorblind. This is religion blind, and I believe in the power of the people.”
A 2019 executive order requires health care providers to be more transparent with their pricing. For example, under the executive order, health care providers are required to publicly list their prices for medical procedures and treatments as well as other details, such as cash discounted prices, the cost of medical instruments, and both in- and out-of-network prices. The idea is that understanding health care costs helps consumers make informed decisions about their care and avoid going into medical debt. The problem, however, is that many hospitals have been slow or have failed altogether to comply with the 2019 executive order, leaving patients at risk of receiving huge bills they could otherwise avoided.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which is supposed to enforce the executive order, has been slow to address this widespread noncompliance. In the nearly four years since the order was published, the agency has issued fines to just four hospitals and another 730 warnings for noncompliance. Power to the Patients believes this is not enough and says their own analysis has determined that more than 70 percent of hospitals nationwide are not in full compliance with the rule.
CQC urges increased action and oversight to ensure that hospitals are publishing their data on pricing in a timely, accessible way. Consumers have a right to the information they need to compare costs, and hospitals should be held accountable when they fail to provide this information.