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Thursday, December 05, 2019

Hospitals sue USA to hide their prices



They pay no taxes and rake in the lion's share of the money from that nearly $1 trillion a year actual taxpayers spend on Medicaid and Medicare each year.

On top of that, each of the 82 largest charitable hospitals pay their top executives more than the president's salary (which Donald John Trump gives back to the USA.)

Adam Andrzejewski wrote in Forbes magazine in June, "Collectively, $297.5 million in cash compensation flowed to the top paid executive at each of the 82 hospitals. We found payouts as high as $10 million, $18 million and even $21.6 million per CEO or other top-paid employee."

That is an average of $3.6 million per CEO -- or 9 times the president's salary.

He wrote, "Even after paying lavish salaries, these non-profit hospitals had enough left over to add nearly $40 billion to their bottom-line.

"We found that the assets, investments and bank accounts at these charitable hospitals increased by $39.1 billion last year – from $164.1 billion to $203.2 billion. That’s 23.6 percent growth, year-over-year, in net assets. Even deducting for the $5.2 billion in charitable gifts received from donors, these hospitals still registered an extraordinary 20.5 percent return on investment (ROI).

"In 1970, health care amounted to 7% of gross domestic product (GDP). Today, estimates suggest the soaring cost of health care will consume 20% of our GDP. That spending trajectory is unsustainable."

America's tax-exempt hospitals have more money than they know what to do with.

And they are hellbent on keeping it.

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's New York Times reported, "The nation’s hospital groups sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over a new federal rule that would require them to disclose the discounted prices they give insurers for all sorts of procedures.

"The hospitals, including the American Hospital Association, argued in a lawsuit filed in United States District Court in Washington that the new rule 'is unlawful, several times over.'

"They argued that the administration exceeded its legal authority in issuing the rule last month as part of its efforts to make the health care system much more transparent to patients. The lawsuit contends the requirement to disclose their private negotiations with insurers violates their First Amendment rights.

"The administration wanted the disclosure rule, which would go into effect in 2021, to allow patients to better shop for deals on a range of services, from MRIs to hip replacements."

Hmm.

The hospital cafeteria must disclose how many calories are in a meal, but hospitals don't have to disclose their prices. The hospitals argue that this violates their First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit said, "Under any potentially applicable level of First Amendment scrutiny, [the government] must show that the mandated speech directly and materially advances a substantial government interest and that the means chosen are narrowly tailored to avoid burdening more constitutionally protected activity than is necessary."

Mandated speech.

That is the best these $1,000-an-hour lawyers can come up with?

This is a tortured argument that makes me long for a Scalia to mock the hell out of the plaintiff.

These hospital oligarchs fear a price war fueled by posting prices will cut into that $40 billion a year in profits they make.

Of course. That is the whole purpose of making them say in advance how much the MRI will be. As tax-exempt non-profits, they are not supposed to make any profit.

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