SPRINGFIELD – Continuing his efforts to improve access to health care for Illinois families, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed the Illinois Health Care Consumer’s Right-to-Know bill, which makes health care price and performance information for outpatient procedures available to all Illinois consumers.
“Consumers have a right to know how much medical procedures cost and how much experience medical facilities have in performing the procedures,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “With this new law, the people of Illinois will be able to make better-informed decisions about their health care.”
House Bill 2343 requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to post on its web site the average charges for 30 outpatient procedures performed at ambulatory surgical treatment centers (ASTC), also known as outpatient surgery centers, and hospital outpatient facilities, along with the number of times the facility has performed those procedures in a year. There are 126 ASTCs licensed in Illinois.
The new law builds on an existing law requiring IDPH to publish in-patient hospital price and performance information on its web site. The process is still under development. The legislation signed today builds on these existing data collection and reporting requirements to include outpatient procedures.
The majority of surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis. In 2003, there were 294,355 surgeries performed at ASTCs. Hospitals performed 393,138 inpatient surgeries and 655,003 outpatient surgeries.
“It is important that information be obtained on all surgeries to get a more accurate picture of this component of health care,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “When making this information public, it’s also important that we protect the rights of patients. This bill ensures privacy laws are enforced to prevent disclosure of any personal information that would identify an individual patient.”
In a survey conducted earlier this year by Fako & Associates Inc. of Lemont, a national public opinion research firm, 85 percent of Illinois registered voters questioned said comparison information on outpatient surgery centers would affect their decision on a facility, and 75 percent said they felt that disclosure of price and quality information would create competition, lower prices and improve quality.
HB 2343 was sponsored by Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), and Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Highwood).
“I applaud the governor for signing this important legislation,” said Sen. Garrett. “Citizens will be able to compare outpatient health care facilities in the state and make informed choices. I am proud that Illinois will be one of nine states that will be providing performance and fee data to consumers on hospitals and medical centers.”
“The Illinois Health Care Right-to-Know legislation ensures all Illinoisans have access to information that will help them make sound decisions about their health care,” said Rep. Julie Hamos. “Consumers have a right to know how health care facilities compare in terms of cost and quality. I applaud Gov. Blagojevich for signing this legislation.”
Consumer, labor and business groups throughout the state supported the legislation.
“Consumers comparison shop for most major purchases, such as a car or computer, even travel," said Nina Harris, president and chief executive officer of the Springfield Urban League, which supported the bill. “Why should people have to choose health care without having the ability to make comparisons? With this new law, they won't have to.”
The new law takes effect immediately. After regulations are developed to implement the new law and data from hospitals and ASTCs are collected, the consumer information will be posted starting in 2006 on the Department’s Web site and made available to the public at no charge.