ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: Hospitals, insurers must cut prices or be made to

Anderson Herald Bulletin

Indiana General Assembly leaders sent a strong, clear message to hospitals and insurers, calling on them to work together to lower health care prices or the General Assembly would pursue legislation to get prices down to the national average by 2025.

The letters sent by Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, are on the right track.

Studies by the Rand Corp. and Harvard University show that hospital prices in Indiana are 3.4 to 3.6 times higher than Medicare rates, ranking from third to fifth highest in the nation.

“High health care costs inhibit business expansion and are a detriment to economic development,” the letters read.

“We recognize that the fault for the high costs we’ve outlined above do not rest entirely on hospitals. Large insurers and other third-party payers have also played a significant role.”

Of course, Hoosiers themselves feel the pain of high hospital prices — often more than 50% above the national average — most intensely.

Spiraling health care costs do not make Indiana particularly inviting for either new residents or business entrepreneurs.

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the national economy, and excessively high health care costs play a significant role in putting Indiana behind the economic recovery curve.

The letters from Huston and Bray, dated Dec. 17, 2021, gave hospitals and insurers until April 1 to present a plan to reduce prices to at least the national average. No detailed plan has been announced publicly.

“Absent a viable plan, we will be left with no choice but to pursue legislation to statutorily reduce prices,” the letter reads — a loud and clear message that comes not a moment too soon.

Eight hospital CEOs responded in the form of a newspaper op-ed piece that seemed to deflect blame to the insurance companies.

These are the same insurance companies that hospitals were asked to work with hand-in-hand to develop solutions. But it seems the hospital CEOs are more interested in passing the buck.

In the absence of a viable proposal by hospitals and insurers, we encourage lawmakers to follow through on their promise to take action and develop legislation to lessen the burden of extraordinarily high health care costs in Indiana.