N.H. Lawmakers Consider Rate-Setting Commission For Hospitals

A proposed cost-control commission would attempt to spread hospital costs more evenly across New Hampshire's population and protect the uninsured from high charges, but the state's hospitals are unhappy about the plan, The Concord Monitor reports. "The 4,700-word bill would create a three-person commission, appointed by the governor, to set rates for procedures in every New Hampshire hospital. The rates would be different for each hospital," – depending on factors such as how much charity care the hospital delivers – "but hospitals would need to charge the same amount to all their patients, regardless of whether they had insurance." An official for the state's Medical Society said the proposal was "one more infringement by government into the practice of medicine" (Schoenberg, 3/2).

The bill was proposed by state Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, and was to be addressed in a hearing Tuesday morning, WMUR, a local television station, reports. "Hassan said the goal is to make the insurance marketplace more competitive. She said the panel would act much the same way the Public Utilities Commission does in dealing with power companies" (3/1).

The Associated Press/Boston Herald adds, the three-person commission is "modeled after a review commission that has been operating in Maryland for almost 40 years" (3/1).

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