California officials unveiled a new and potentially controversial bill aimed at containing hospital prices. The legislation, co-sponsored by state Sens. Dede Alpert and John Burton, was drawn up at the request of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, a pension plan covering 1.2 million state workers. Among other provisions, the bill would require hospitals to disclose an array of financial and contract information to employers and insurers and would make it illegal for hospital systems to force payers to contract with all facilities in the system. As part of a plan to cut $53 million from its annual benefits costs, CalPERS is threatening to drop 15 of Sutter Health's 26 hospitals from its statewide HMO network unless the Sacramento-based system agrees to significantly limit annual fee increases. A CalPERS study found that hospitals owned by not-for-profit Sutter were 60% more expensive on average than other hospitals in the state. CalPERS is scheduled to vote April 20 on its hospital network for next year. The bill is set for an April 21 hearing by the state Senate Committee on Insurance. -- by Laura B. Benko
Calif. bill would make hospitals reveal financial, contract data
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