California’s hospitals are recognized nationwide for their longstanding work to ensure that care is accessible for everyone, because our state’s hospital leaders instinctively know that health care is a basic human need.
Now, as national conversation continues around the need to make care more accessible to all, the American Hospital Association is offering an opportunity to reaffirm those values and demonstrate your commitment to best practices that deliver for patients, regardless of their ability to pay.
Earlier this week, I shared with California’s hospital CEOs and other hospital leaders a request to sign a pledge from the American Hospital Association 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
We encourage all of you to affirm your commitment 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.
As this work advances, CHA is continuing its efforts to have federal officials correct the independent resolution process in the second No Surprises Act interim final rule. During negotiations on the bill, Congress took action to remove language to ensure a level playing field in arbitration, but the interim rule does the opposite of what Congress intended, which is to take patients out of the middle of payment disputes, by mandating a benchmark rate.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, 152 members — including 25 members of the California congressional delegation — have signed on to a bipartisan letter to the Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor asking the agencies to remedy this problem.