COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A new bill introduced at the Ohio Statehouse already had 30 Republican co-sponsors and could bring more transparency to the state’s healthcare system.
The bill’s sponsors, Rep. Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville) and Rep. Tim Barhorst (R- Fort Loramie) said it is modeled after one that went into effect a year ago in Colorado. The Colorado bill was called the Prohibit Collection Hospital Not Disclosing Prices and passed with bipartisan support.
The goal of the Ohio legislation is to let patients “know before they go” to the hospital how much they are going to be paying in bills.
“It’s one of the top two things on people’s minds,” Ferguson said. “Everyone wants to make sure first and foremost they have a reliable job that pays well, and the other thing is that they have healthcare that’s affordable and high quality, and that’s what we’re looking to do here with this bill.”
“It’s truly a protection for the patient and consumer,” Barhorst said.
Federal laws mandating greater price transparency have been in place for more than a decade, but Ferguson and Barhorst said federal enforcement has fallen short.
“We’d like to take the opportunity to work with the governor, work with Democrats, work with the Senate, to get a bill that makes sense to modernize and put the price transparency out there,” Barhorst said. “I think providers could get more volume if people knew what things cost. There’s a big fear of not getting procedures because you feel you’re going to ruin your life and end up in debt.”
The bill would codify those existing federal laws to ensure hospitals comply with price transparency rules.
The bill would prohibit hospitals not in compliance from:
- Referring, assigning, or selling medical debt to debt collectors
- Accessing the state court system to obtain judgment for an outstanding medical debt
- Filing negative credit reports against patients for outstanding medical bills
“A keyword that needs to go along with this, affordability, and sustainability,” Barhorst said. “I think we’re at a point in America and Ohio where the healthcare system needs to modernize, and the technology is out there.”
“It’s going to drive down costs with a free market approach, make sure we put patients first and that when you go to a hospital, you know what you’re going to be paying for something,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson and Barhorst said they plan to be proactive in reaching out to Democrats.
“I expect to have overwhelming bipartisan support for this,” Ferguson said.
On Wednesday, Speaker of the House Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) will lay out his priorities, and sponsors of this bill said they hope it is one of them.
The bill has not been assigned a number or committee yet.