The Journal Gazette
 
 
Sunday, April 10, 2022 1:00 am

Hospitals' indifference on cost containment apparent

Allen B. Hubbard and Dr. Gloria Sachdev

On Jan. 4, Indiana Speaker of the House Todd Huston, R-Fishers, and Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, publicly called on eight Indiana nonprofit hospitals with prices above the national average to present a plan to the legislature by April 1, that would lower Indiana's hospital prices to at least a national average by Jan. 1, 2025. The letter stated that “absent a viable plan, we (the legislature) will be left with no choice but to pursue legislation to statutorily reduce prices.”

Last week, Huston and Bray publicly released the plans that were submitted.

Hoosiers for Affordable Healthcare has reviewed the six publicly available responses. With a couple of notable exceptions, we find the results to be extremely disappointing. To its credit, IU Health distinguished itself as a leader among hospital respondents by committing to lowering its prices to the national average by Jan. 1, 2025.

While we call on IU Health to commit to a more aggressive timeline and believe that the more than $9 billion in cash reserves IU Health boasts gives it the opportunity to do just that, we commend their commitment to lowering the prices Hoosiers pay to the national average and encourage them to adopt transparent accountability practices to document their progress.

Of the other seven hospitals:

• Parkview Health did not commit to lowering its prices to the national average by Jan. 1, 2025; however, it did commit that its prices would be 22% lower in 2025 than they were in 2020 when adjusted for inflation.

• Ascension Health did not commit to lowering its prices to the national average by Jan. 1, 2025.

• Community Health Network did not commit to lowering its prices to the national average by Jan. 1, 2025.

• Deaconess Hospital did not commit to lowering its prices to the national average by Jan. 1, 2025, but did state that its prices are currently exceptionally close to the national average.

• Franciscan Health did not commit to lowering its prices to the national average by Jan. 1, 2025.

• Neither Beacon Health nor Union Health had publicly released a statement as of Friday.

Concurrent with the letter sent to hospitals in January, Huston and Bray sent a letter to the state's health insurance carriers, requesting that they work collaboratively with hospitals to present a plan to lower the out-of-control costs of hospital care in Indiana and to ensure that all savings are passed on to the consumer.

The Insurance Institute of Indiana, in conjunction with the Indiana Association of Health Plans, did commit to working with hospitals to enter contract negotiations targeting prices that are at or below the national average. It's critical insurers negotiate aggressively on behalf of Hoosiers. We insist on high-value health care.

Legislative leaders made a direct request of hospital systems to lower their prices to the national average by Jan. 1, 2025. The vast majority of the responses that were submitted appear to intentionally ignore and disregard that request.

Rather than offering solutions to lower Indiana's high hospital prices, it seems the vast majority of hospitals are openly inviting the heavy hand of government regulation to achieve this critically important goal.

Hoosiers for Affordable Healthcare will continue working with all stakeholders to lower the high cost of hospital care in Indiana.

Allen B. Hubbard is chairman and Dr. Gloria Sachdev is vice chairwoman of Hoosiers for Affordable Healthcare.


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