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Ohio Senate's changes to hospital price transparency bill anger GOP sponsor and Democrats

Reps. Tim Barhorst (R-Fort Laramie) and Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville) introducing their bill on hospital prices in February 2023.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Reps. Tim Barhorst (R-Fort Laramie) and Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville) introducing their bill on hospital prices in February 2023.

The sponsor of a bill that would require hospitals to publish prices so consumers can shop around isn’t pleased with changes the Senate made to the measure before passing it.

When House Bill 49 passed the House in June 2023, it got only five no votes in the House, all from Republicans.

But the Senate's version reduces penalties, removes a provision allowing patients to file complaints with the Ohio Department of Health if hospitals don’t disclose prices and allows hospitals to publish estimates of costs.

“Estimates are not prices, and we feel there's too many loopholes within that where the hospitals could be putting out estimates instead of prices," said Rep. Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville), one of the bill's two Republican sponsors. "And we want to ensure that those are prices because that's what patients want."

Five Democrats and one Republican in the Senate voted against it, including Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood).

"It started out as a good bill over in the House. And some of my members have used the word 'gutted' in terms of the effectiveness of the bill because of what was changed here in the Senate," Antonio said. "So we'd like to see some of the good things that that were put in in the House originally."

The bill now will return to the House and will likely end up in a conference committee.

Copyright 2024 The Statehouse News Bureau