Governor Brewer Vetoes Hospital Transparency Bill

| April 16 2013
AZ News

Last Friday Governor Jan Brewer sided with Democrats and the hospital industry when she vetoed SB1115, a Republican-sponsored health transparency bill.  Republicans championed the bill they claim would have required health care providers to make public a list of costs for their 25 most commonly provided services, and would have required health care facilities to make publicly available their prices for their 50 most common outpatient service codes and group codes.  Supporters claim the reform would have introduced greater price competition to health care in Arizona, and helped to prevent fraud and over-billing.

This was the governor’s third veto of the session.

In her veto letter the governor provided a number of reasons indicating why she vetoed the legislation, most surrounding what she felt were overly broad definitions, ambiguous terms, and fears of litigation.  In her veto letter, Brewer wrote: “I support price and quality of care transparency in the health care sector which will provide useful information to help patients manage their health care needs. Transparency will bring more accountability into the health care delivery system.”  But she added: “I am concerned about the practical and potential legal implications of this bill.  Accordingly, I cannot sign it in its current form.”

Some are wondering if the governor’s veto goes a little deeper and is actually related to Medicaid expansion and reprisal for the opposition towards the governor’s plan from most of the members in her own party.  Motivations are questioned further when the governor continues to push the hospital industry’s agenda to expand Medicaid in Arizona.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Nancy Barto, noted that she was disappointed the governor and her staff failed to bring any of these concerns to her attention during the course of the session, and questioned whether the governor was actually on the side of consumers.  Barto fired back:

“The governor is showing she is not on the side of consumers. She’s on the side of big hospitals.  At a time when patients are seeing their health care costs continue to rise more and more, employees are responsible for a much larger share of their health care, even if they have insurance. This would’ve benefitted consumers immeasurably.”

Barto says she will push to include the legislation in the budget.  “There’s a lot of upset about this veto. A lot of upset,” she said. “I don’t see this going away. … We’re not going to let it go.”

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