MN Senate Republicans push for posting health care prices

Sen. Scott Jensen is sponsoring legislation to require greater transparency in health care pricing. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Minnesota lawmakers are proposing new requirements for health care providers to share with patients their prices on common procedures.

Under legislation moving through the state Senate, providers would have to post the prices for their 25-most commonly billed services at their clinic and on their websites.

Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, said during a news conference Thursday that gag clauses in contracts and rigid regulations are keeping patients in the dark. Jensen, a physician, said pricing transparency can lead to larger improvements in health care.

“Currently we don’t have a patient-centered free marketplace, because we’re not giving it a chance,” Jensen said. “How can you ask people to be responsible in terms of how they use their health care dollars, how they steward their resources, if we won’t tell them what the price is? It makes no sense.”

Jensen is also sponsoring a bill that would allow pharmacists to inform customers when the cash cost of a prescription costs is less than the insured cost.

The bills have cleared committees and are awaiting action by the Senate.

Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, is sponsoring legislation that would require health care providers to disclose hidden facility fees to patients.

“More than ever before, patients want to know the charges associated with their health care,” Draheim said.