Maryland gets tough on hospital pricing

Maryland's Health Services Cost Review Commission is considering a plan that would put an iron lid on hospital charges, making it one of the nation's toughest cost control regulations in the nation, The Washington Post reported.

Under the proposal, hospital costs in Maryland would not be able to rise more than the actual rate of inflation--which would effectively cut future price increases in half, according to the Post. The initiative also would include incentives to improve the quality of care.

Maryland has had a great degree of leeway in setting hospital prices since the early 1970s, a task of its Health Services Cost Review Commission, but pegging costs to inflation would be new and similar to a law recently passed in Massachusetts, reported The Boston Globe.

Massachusetts passed its healthcare spending bill in August, marking the first preventative care state budget cap in the nation. The bill sets a benchmark for total healthcare spending for 15 years, which will be 3.6 percent of the growth in the economy for 2013.

The Maryland Hospital Association is "cool" to the cost control proposal, according to the Post. MHA CEO Carmela Coyle said the proposal is the "single most important event that's affected Maryland hospitals in the last 40 years."

Should Maryland lawmakers enact such a cap, it would require a waiver from the U.S Department of Health & Human Services, the Post reported.

For more:
- here's the Washington Post article
- read the Boston Globe article