Florida Gov. Rick Scott calls for more regulation of hospitals - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Florida Gov. Rick Scott calls for more regulation of hospitals

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MIAMI (AP) — In his latest dispute with Florida hospitals, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday called for additional regulations, including a requirement that they disclose more information about prices charged to patients.

Scott is hoping the Florida Legislature will pass the proposals during the 2016 session.

The Republican governor has taken aim at hospitals that receive public funds after the federal government announced deep cuts in hospital funding earlier this year. He created a commission to examine hospitals' finances, which has not yet released its legislative recommendations, and has tried to convince lawmakers that hospitals are not as bad off financially as they maintain.

Scott also has blamed hospitals for charging insurance company rates that are too high, and says that is part of the reason the state's new Medicaid privatization program is not saving more money.

Scott said Monday that he wants to require hospitals to post their prices and average payments as well as their annual tax filings on their websites in an effort to hold publicly funded and government-owned hospitals to the same financial disclosure standards.

The tax filings would include information on how much money hospital executives are paid and how much the hospital spends on lobbying.

Scott, the former CEO of a private hospital chain, also said that he wants to make it easier for patients to report suspected price gouging.

"Most Florida hospitals receive state taxpayer dollars. We must not use state money to subsidize hospitals who are charging our citizens unfairly high prices for services they receive, often during a time of personal crisis," the governor said in a statement.

Hospitals are already required to make large amounts of data public.

Florida Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben said Monday that the association was disappointed by Scott's statement, which he said "pre-empted the work of the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding."

Reuben said the commission on Monday had made policy recommendations "including a comprehensive approach to help consumers understand the cost of health care."

The federal government has released mounds of data in recent years, such as the prices hospitals charge for common surgeries, in an effort to empower consumers and make prices more competitive.

Scott's antagonistic approach toward hospitals in the past several months has also stemmed from a disagreement over Medicaid expansion. The hospitals want the state to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of Floridians under President Barack Obama's new health care law, but Scott and House Republican leaders remain strongly opposed.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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