Hospital Hesitates to Share Imaging Prices Upfront, Puzzling Judges And Raising Questions

By Neale Pashley

A hospital hesitated to share Imaging prices upfront with the court. A panel of judges are questioning the hospital field’s hesitancy to share upfront pricing during an appeals case. Why are x-ray prices “unknowable”?

A recent virtual courtroom was recounting a high-profile appeals case. This appeal is by the American Hospital Association who had challenged a Federal policy compelling AHA’s members to publish negotiated rates they reach with insurers for imaging exams and other services. They appealed in a lower court and lost. Now, they are trying again in the D.C. Court of Appeals, which Healthcare Dive reports.

When asked why hospitals cannot produce rates for imaging exams, attorney Lisa Blatt said, “many rates are unknowable.”

But the judges were appeased by this answer. It launched a line of questioning, according to the report.

Judge Merrick Garland asked. “Why is that not doable? Why is it only after Judge Garland leaves the hospital that you know how much to put on Judge Garland’s x-ray charge?”.

Blatt responded that x-ray charges are not easily itemized, and sometimes billed on a volume discount, per diem. But the court continued to express skepticism. “Why? It’s just an x-ray? If I have one, I’ll get charged for $100; and if he gets two, he’ll get $200,” said Judge David Tatel.

While the judges didn’t seem t get the answers to satisfy their questioning, they moved on with the discussion. Keep up to see what the court’s decision will be on the AHA’s appeal with Healthcare Dive.