Online petition demanding price transparency gets strong response

A one-time hospital chief executive officer has launched an online petition to denounce the lack of transparency in the pricing of acute care services. 

The petition, launched by Steven I. Weissman, who served as CEO of Palm Springs General Hospital in Hialeah, Florida, two years ago, has already gathered more than 87,000 signatures out of a total goal of 150,000. He is now calling on the presidential candidates to pledge that they would outlaw what Weissman termed predatory pricing.

"Predatory pricing is the reason that the U.S. is suffering from health cost misery," Weissman said in a statement. "The healthcare industry has entirely eliminated real prices for hospitals, physicians and labs."

The lack of price transparency has become more visible in healthcare in recent years as more individual patients have rising out-of-pocket costs.

The group Health Catalyst gave only five states passing grades for price transparency in a recent survey. In Massachusetts, the only state that has mandated price transparency, studies have concluded that hospitals only grudgingly supply prices to consumers who ask for them. And GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump has made price transparency a plank in his healthcare policy platform.

The petition reads in part that "it is time for Congress to take action and require healthcare providers to bill all patients, insured and uninsured, the same amount for the same service. Hospitals, physicians and labs should have continued freedom to set their own prices, but predatory pricing--a different rate for each patient--must be prohibited."

To learn more:
- read Weissman's statement 
- check out the petition