Healthcare Industry Convinces Courtney to Kill Price Transparency Bill

A compromise measure from Sen. Steiner Hayward that would have opened up health insurance tools with price information to all consumers won the needed support of Sen. Monnes Anderson, but last-minute pressure on the state’s top lawmaker stopped the price transparency bill dead in its tracks.

by Chris Gray, for The Lund Report, April 22, 2015

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, halted a legislative effort to force hospitals and health insurers to be more candid about their prices following closed-door negotiations with their influential lobbyists.

The move rankled some in Courtney’s caucus who have been steeling for greater reforms after Oregon was given an F along with 44 other states by the Catalyst for Payment Reform, a national organization that scores states on price transparency. Four East Coast states plus Colorado got a passing grade.

Senate Bill 891 in its original form would have required hospitals to post their prices for common procedures paid by health insurers, Medicare, Medicaid, the school districts and state employees. In the amended version, the public would be given access to online tools with price information from the health insurers that is currently given only to enrolled health plan members.

“I was all set to move it,” Monnes Anderson told The Lund Report. “There were some political decisions made at a higher grade than I,” including “negotiations in the president’s office” with insurers, who claimed the Legislature was already asking a lot from them, she said.