Florida bill on healthcare transparency headed to governor

A bill that would give Florida residents greater transparency on healthcare costs is headed to Gov. Rick Scott.

The Florida Senate passed the bill (HB 1175) by a 34-1 vote Friday, which was the final day of the legislative session. It requires Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration to contract with a vendor for a website that will show cost and quality of care.

"What we are trying to do is transform how people collect, view and compare information about the price and quality of healtcare," Sen. Rob Bradley said.

The website would be similar to when consumers select their healthcare plans. They could start by looking up their health problem or procedure, which would list price averages and ranges. That could be broken down into physician services, tests, procedures, and post-surgery therapies or rehabilitation.

The one major thing the bill does not address is price gouging, which had been a big priority of Scott's. The Scott Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding released findings in January that noted price transparency is not the panacea to driving down costs.

"The governor is coming from a place where he wants to control costs We focus so much on the revenue side of the equation that there isn't much of a focus on costs," Bradley said. "This whole effort is to focus on the cost side. Whatever final form it takes, the governor should be proud because he started the discussion."

In a statement late Friday, Gov. Scott applauded the Legislature for passing the bill and called it an important step forward.

"While there is still more work to be done to empower patients at hospitals, this bill will help provide Floridians with information to make informed decisions about their healthcare and its costs," he said. "I look forward to working with the Legislature to further empower patients and continue increasing price transparency at Florida hospitals."

Bruce Rueben, who is the president of the Florida Hospital Association, echoed their support of the bill and said it should help people make better informed healthcare decisions.

A vendor for the site must be selected by October, and the website is likely to be up within a year.



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