South Dakota approved administrative rules to implement public reporting of median charges for the top 25 inpatient procedures at each of the state's 62 hospitals. The state Health Department will post the charges annually on a public Web site using claims data gathered by the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations.
A department spokeswoman said the first posting should occur by spring 2006. The procedures will vary by facility, she said. State Sen. Thomas Dempster (R-Sioux Falls), chairman of the Senate health committee, sponsored the legislation, which passed both houses in February by lopsided margins and was signed by Gov. M. Michael Rounds in March. Dempster said he is "a real believer in consumer-directed healthcare" but consumers must be armed with price information for such plans to work.
A broader bill passed the state Senate last year but was opposed by the healthcare association and ultimately failed in the House.
Dempster said the successful bill omitted reporting for outpatient services. "Inpatient is going to be less discretionary than outpatient, so it is less meaningful, but it is a step in the right direction," he said.