CEO Message

California Hospitals Should Reaffirm Commitment to Protecting Patients

As CHA continues to press federal agencies to correct the independent dispute resolution process in the second No Surprises Act interim final rule (during negotiations, Congress removed language to ensure a level playing field in arbitration, but the interim rule does the opposite by mandating a benchmark rate), we are asking every hospital in California to reaffirm your commitment to billing and price transparency best practices that deliver for patients, regardless of their ability to pay. 

The reaffirmation comes in the form of a pledge, organized by the American Hospital Association (AHA), committing to a set of voluntary patient billing guidelines. The guidelines, largely adapted from what is already required in federal law for tax-exempt hospitals and very similar to state law, will help demonstrate to the public and policymakers that hospitals will abide by the following: 

  • To the best of your ability, assist individuals in accessing available coverage 
  • Communicate clearly and directly with patients about their financial obligations and assist those who qualify for financial assistance to obtain it 
  • Apply consistently and fairly your financial assistance policies 
  • Assure leadership review and accountability for implementation of billing policies 

AHA sent this request to all CEOs or primary hospital contacts in an email on Oct. 28 with a dedicated, hospital- or system-specific link to affirm support for the billing guidelines. If your hospital is part of a health system, the AHA email was sent to the health system CEO or primary contact. If your primary contact didn’t receive the email, email [email protected] and include your organization’s name, city, and state. 

We encourage all of you to  commit to the guidelines by AHA’s Dec. 31 deadline. AHA plans to publish the names of organizations that have signed the pledge in early 2022, and it’s important that California, already a national leader in ensuring that care is accessible for everyone, make a strong showing in this important endeavor.  

As of Wednesday, only about 60 of more than 400 hospitals and health systems in California have signed on. It’s important to note that the guidelines are largely adapted from what is already required in federal law for tax-exempt hospitals and very similar to state law

California hospitals’ commitment to your patients is something to be trumpeted from the rooftops. By signing this pledge, you have an opportunity to do just that, especially for those who have, regrettably, expressed skepticism about hospitals’ intentions and values.  

Let’s prove them wrong.

CARMELA