State Treasurer lambastes hospitals’ obscene pricing

RALEIGH – North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell released a report this week that shows extreme variations in hospital prices, huge price markups from Medicare rates, and widespread failures in price transparency.

Trained as a certified public accountant, Folwell pulled no punches in a Tuesday morning cyber press conference when he accused many of the state’s hospitals – and their Chief Executive Officers – of “putting prices over patients” while giving Presidential Executive Orders “the middle finger.”

The report’s findings raise troubling questions about health care access and affordability, and North Carolina’s justice system. The report found massive disparities among hospital prices, and failures in price transparency that have crippled patients’ ability to protect their financial health.

This is especially troubling given an earlier report, which found that North Carolina hospital systems filed lawsuits against thousands over medical debt, using the court system to charge interest on medical debt judgments and to place liens on family homes. When patients tried to fight back, they argued that they could not possibly determine whether they had been charged a fair price.

Patients are under siege in North Carolina,” Treasurer Folwell said. “Too many hospitals are hiding their prices, overcharging patients and then suing them for medical debt.”

Treasurer Folwell is calling on the North Carolina House of Representatives to protect patients, taxpayers and their families by passing Senate Bill 321, the Medical Debt De-Weaponization Act. The Senate unanimously passed the bill despite opposition from hospital lobbyists. The Treasurer expressed appreciation for that vote and thanked the Senate for including hospital price relief for the State Health Plan in its proposed budget.