Sen. James Welch defended Senate leadership’s approach to addressing hospital price variation in the face of criticism Tuesday from insurers who warned that without adjustments the bill moving forward this week could lead to higher premiums for consumers.

Welch, who led the Senate’s health care reform working group and helped write the bill that will advance to the floor Wednesday for debate, said lawmakers considered the insurers’ concerns when drafting the bill and feel they were adequately addressed.

Still, he said Senate leaders were still considering amendments to the bill (S 2202) that would shorten the timeline for the market correction as well as proposals to impose a price cap on hospital reimbursement rates.

“I understand MAHP’s concerns regarding compressing the state’s providers whose costs grow the most, but we feel the bill does provide the market with adequate incentives to correct itself and directly deals with these concerns,” Welch said. “That being said, we are currently reviewing amendments that could shorten the market correction timeline and others that propose a cap.”

The Senate bill seeks to close the gap between high priced providers and lower-paid community hospitals by requiring all hospital reimbursement rates be brought up to 90 percent of the statewide average the year before.

Insurers warned Tuesday that unless specific steps were taken to constrain rates at the top end of the scale as lower-paid providers were being brought up, consumers and employers would pay the price.

One hundred and sixty-two amendments were filed in advance of the two-day Senate debate planned for this week.

Price Caps Under Review On Eve Of Senate Health Debate

by State House News Service time to read: 1 min