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Oregon lawmakers poised to debate two proposals to make health care prices more transparent

An OSPIRG white paper released today clarifies the differences between the proposals.
For Immediate Release

Today, an Oregon Senate Committee will hear public testimony for the first time on two pieces of legislation with very different approaches to making health care price information more widely available. To clarify what is at stake, OSPIRG has released a white paper (pdf) outlining the key differences between the two proposals.

Senate Bill 891, supported by OSPIRG and a coalition of consumer advocates, small businesses and health care providers, would require Oregon health care facilities to post their own prices publicly, like other businesses, and provide real-time price estimates on request.

Senate Bill 900, supported by the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems and the state’s top health insurance companies, would require the state to set up a website with aggregated data about average amounts collected by Oregon hospitals for the most common health care procedures.

Key findings of OSPIRG’s paper (pdf):

  • SB 891 would provide consumers with accurate, actionable information about prices that would be included in a bill. SB 900 would not.
  • SB 891 would enable the creation of consumer-friendly tools and shopping guides that would help Oregonians shop around and identify high-value health care. The impact of SB 900 would be much more limited.
  • SB 891 would enable consumers to request an actionable estimate in real time, at the point of service. SB 900 does not include any provisions to this effect.
  • SB 900 requires the state to engage in a complex IT project, at significant cost to Oregon taxpayers. SB 891 puts the responsibility on health care facilities themselves to post their prices, like other businesses.
  • SB 891 would strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and begin a needed transformation of the practice of medicine to enable health care providers to have frank conversations about cost and value with their patients.
  • SB 891 applies to all health care facilities; SB 900 only applies to hospitals and hospital outpatient clinics.

“With Oregonians picking up an ever-greater portion of their own health care costs in the form of higher deductibles and coinsurance, it’s more important than ever for consumers to know the price of health care up front,” said OSPIRG Health Care Advocate Jesse O’Brien. “We all know that health care still costs too much. The least we can do is make sure health care facilities post their prices, like any other business. SB 891 is an important step in the right direction.”

The two bills will be heard in the State Senate Committee on Health Care beginning at 3:00 PM in Hearing Room A in the Oregon Capitol, and can be livestreamed via the Committee’s website.

For more information about SB 891, check OSPIRG’s fact sheet.

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OSPIRG is a non-profit, non-partisan statewide consumer organization. Please visit us at www.ospirg.org

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