In 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established a requirement that, as of January 1, 2019, hospitals must make available a list of our current standard charges via the Internet in a machine readable format at least annually. A “machine readable format” is a format that can be easily integrated into a computer system or statistical program (e.g., XML, CSV). This could be in the form of the chargemaster (a standard format used by all hospitals) itself or another form of the hospital’s choice, as long as the information is in machine readable format. The agency had not previously required standard hospital charges to be available in a machine readable format, nor had it required that the list be posted on a public-facing website. Instead, hospitals could meet prior guidance by providing charges upon request.
In order to meet CMS regulations we are posting these files to our website in the required machine readable format. In addition to the hospital’s complete chargemaster file, we are also providing a list of our most common inpatient DRG’s along with the average total charges for each DRG. While we understand CMS’ intent to promote price transparency, it must be understood that hospital payment calculations are very complex based on contracted rates with numerous insurance plans and companies (both government related and commercial), and not actual charges. It is our opinion that this information in its current format is only the beginning of providing true price transparency to the public. CMS continues to collect information and we expect further clarification from CMS in the next 12 – 18 months. In the meantime, we will continue to work towards providing meaningful price transparency that also meets federal regulations.