Chris Sprowls blames media and COVID-19 for late traffic to healthcare transparency website
Florida spent $ 5.5 million on a health care transparency website, the former governor. Rick scott beefed up by the Florida legislature in 2016 as a way to cut healthcare costs for Florida consumers, but it’s not being used.
House tenant Chris stretches out, which sponsored the legislation needed to create the website in 2016, blames it, in part, on the media. That, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had a really hard time getting the media to cover this in a substantial way,” Sprowls told Florida Politics, referring to the Florida Health Price Research website. “I think people don’t know it’s an option to check out. And it’s part of the government’s job to ensure that there is a reasonable amount of resources to be used to get the word out. But it would also be useful, I think, for other partners of the press to promote this issue. It is not a partisan issue. It has to do with the cost of the (health care) procedures. We should all have an interest in people buying health care. “
The Florida Price Finder website recorded 173,361 visits in its nearly four-year history, according to Florida Politics data obtained from the State Agency for Healthcare Administration.
The data tracks the number of website visitors between December 1, 2017 and August 1, 2021. On average, 3,940 people per month visited the website during the 44-month period for which the state has data. .
Sprowls, however, noted that the period includes the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down elective health care services at the onset of the pandemic as the state attempted to ensure that appropriate amounts of medical equipment. personal protection remained available. Even after hospitals resumed elective procedures, patients were reluctant to seek health care for fear of contracting COVID-19. And some Florida hospitals were forced to limit elective procedures again this summer as the delta variant spread, and hospitals were inundated with COVID-19 patients, most of them unvaccinated.
The website grew out of a deadly 2015 legislative battle over the expansion of Medicaid, led by the Florida Senate and fomented by Florida hospitals. The website allows consumers to access cost estimates for certain health services such as knee and hip replacements and open heart surgery. The estimates are based on approximately 70.3 million claims submitted by insurers which show the negotiated rates that insurers pay to providers. According to the website, the estimates are based on claims paid between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017 and were considered valid until July 2019.
Agency staff for health care administration said last month at a meeting of the Consumer Health Information and Policy Advisory Council that an update of the site with 2019 claims data should be made and the price information on the website updated “in a few weeks”.
Working with House Republicans, then Governor Scott, a former hospital executive and staunch opponent of the federal healthcare law commonly known as Obamacare that authorized the expansion of Medicaid, rejected the proposal. But it came at a cost.
The federal government has reduced the amount of additional Medicaid funds known as low income pool funds that have flowed into the state. Scott, who was planning to run for the US Senate at the time, was forced to cut ambitious proposed tax breaks he wanted to give to Florida companies.
After the battle, Scott appointed a hospital commission to review hospital costs, and the following year convinced Florida lawmakers to pass legislation creating a database of all payers’ claims. The Health Care Cost Institute, which had made a presentation to Scott’s hospital commission, was hired in April 2017 to administer the database and develop a user-friendly website.
Scott’s US Senate office defended the spending and the creation of the website, saying it was one of several initiatives the governor has taken to protect Florida patients from price hikes.
“As a senator, he continues to work on real solutions to help lower health care costs for every American,” Scott’s Senate press office said Monday in a statement to Florida Politics. “There is no reason why patients should not know exactly how much their procedures and prescriptions cost before going to the doctor or the pharmacy. Investing in efforts to increase transparency and lower the cost of health care for American families is well worth it. “
Sprows, meanwhile, noted that the success of the Florida Health Price Finder website is not static.
“With things like that, it’s not about skating to where the puck is. This is about skating to where the puck will be. And what we have done here is we have thought about the future. … The goal here was in part to encourage private industry to come and take some of this information as well and hopefully create various user-friendly tools, ”Sprowls said. “As much as I want the numbers to increase, I am by no means discouraged by what we have done. It is extremely valuable to Floridians. The challenge here is to make sure Floridians know this.