WHA Transparency Task Force Shares Surprise Billing and Patient Cost Estimate Initiatives

September 03, 2019

The WHA Transparency Task Force (TTF) reconvened August 26 to discuss member efforts around price transparency. Jennifer Mueller, Vice President of the WHA Information Center (WHAIC), kicked off the meeting with a presentation on the tools and data available through WHAIC. The TTF was interested in learning about how the Information Center’s data can inform WHA efforts as they relate to price transparency and surprise billing.

The WHAIC has been in existence since 2004 when the State contracted with WHAIC to lead the State’s data collection efforts. As such, the WHAIC is a skilled data collector and data aggregator. Mueller informed the group that this data is shared with data purchasers, is used to develop mandated publications, as well as to populate both transparency websites—PricePoint for price and CheckPoint for quality. The WHAIC also has several projects in the works utilizing this data, which will assist hospital members in their price transparency efforts.

The TTF also heard from WHA Director of Federal and State Relations Jon Hoelter, who provided an update on the state and federal landscape as it relates to surprise billing, as well as WHA’s advocacy efforts. He noted WHA led a delegation to Washington, D.C. in mid-July to discuss surprise billing and was able to meet with lawmakers and/or staff from every Wisconsin office. WHA is also doing in-district meetings in August and September in Wisconsin with select lawmakers. Hoelter said WHA’s message was well-received, but the fate of federal legislation that would include government-set commercial rates to resolve balance billing disputes remains uncertain. Legislation is likely to continue moving when Congress resumes its work in September, and WHA is planning another trip to D.C. to address new developments with such legislation. Hoelter also noted that depending on what happens with federal legislation, there may be a desire to work on state legislation that would impact the individual and group health insurance markets in Wisconsin.

Finally, each TTF member described their own organization’s efforts pertaining to preventing and/or resolving surprise billing and engaging patients with cost information. Members presented and discussed innovative strategies already underway, and future phases of their work on these topics. The group reconvenes in October to continue to share and document best practices and will produce a report highlighting these discussions by the close of 2019. For more information about the TTF, contact WHA Vice President of Public Policy Lisa Ellinger.

This story originally appeared in the September 03, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter