Prominent labor unions in New York in a letter sent this week to Gov. Kathy Hochul urged to approve a measure meant to increase transparency around hospital billing and pricing.
The bill, known as the HEAL Act by supporters, would is meant to bar "gag clauses" that keep ratepayers from knowing prices beforehand.
"Particularly during these times of inflation, healthcare consumers and purchasers need every tool available to keep their care transparent and affordable," the letter to Hochul from the unions stated. "Signing this law will allow unions, employers and local governments to access all their claims data and make smart purchasing decisions."
Signing onto the effort in support of the measure includes 32BJ, District Council 37, the United Federation of Teachers, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union, the UFCW, the Public Employees Federation, PSC-CUNY and the Hotel Trades Council.
The unions have formed a Coalition for Affordable Hospitals to address the pricing issue.
At issue is the ever-increasing cost of health care for private employers, patients and health funds for unions. Many are struggling to pay for the increasing prices, and hospital pricing is now making an increasingly larger portion of U.S. health care spending.
The union also pointed to private hospitals charging New Yorkers far more than what Medicare is charged for the same services at the same facility.
"HEAL would help address this problem by prohibiting gag clauses, which allow hospitals to hide their prices from payers and consumers, and Most Favored Nation clauses, which can allow backroom deals with insurers to keep prices high," they wrote in the letter.