HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson today told the American Hospital Association that federal rules don't prohibit hospitals from giving price discounts to uninsured patients. The message came in a letter, which counters hospital industry assertions that Medicare and Medicaid rules block hospitals from giving price breaks to uninsured patients who can't afford to pay their bills. Responding to earlier correspondence from AHA President Richard Davidson, Thompson said the AHA's suggestion that HHS regulations require hospitals to bill all patients using the same schedule of charges is "not correct." Thompson urged the AHA to work with member hospitals to "take action to assist the uninsured and underinsured." The letter was accompanied by six pages summarizing federal policy pertaining to the billing of uninsured patients and Medicare beneficiaries who can't afford their cost-sharing obligations. -- by Mary Chris Jaklevic
HHS says it's legal to discount care for uninsured
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