Behind Texas' 'unfriendly legislative session' to ASCs

Texas' price transparency laws are burdening ASCs, many leaders say. 

Susan Cheek, administrator of the Dallas Endoscopy Center and  IV Anesthesia Services as well as a board member for the Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society, joined Becker's to discuss her state's "unfriendly" legislation to ASCs. 

Question: How would you characterize legislation's effect on ASCs?

Editor's note: This response was edited lightly for length and clarity. 

Susan Cheek: This has probably been the most unfriendly legislative session to healthcare and ASCs in particular, at least in the state of Texas, that I have seen in many years. I do believe that that is the same thing that's happening across the country.

A theme that I'm seeing in particular is pricing transparency — and I understand the spirit that they're trying to go on, but they're trying to ask the wrong people to provide that information. The insurance companies are the ones with the information, not ASCs. They are the ones who already know the negotiated rates that they pay the different facilities that are contracted with them. The insurance companies should be the ones who are asked to put that data out there for patients, and not put that cost burden on ASCs who are already the lower-cost, high-quality provider in the equation. We nationally save the healthcare system about $42 billion a year. If patients come to us, it's going to cost much less than if you went to a hospital or another facility for this exact same procedure.

We're already operating on close margins, and if you come along and tell us that we have to put our data out there in very specific, machine-readable data format — I mean, 70 percent of ASCs have 20 or fewer employees, and we don't have computer programmers at our disposal. It's going to cost our industry a lot of money to comply with this. 

And quite frankly, our data that we put out there is only as good as the data we get from the insurance company. … They already know if the patients met their deductible, they already know if a certain procedure is covered. They should be the ones who have to make that data available to the insured.

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