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Opinion: It’s Time for the General Assembly to Rein in “Dishonest Billing”

Small businesses are engines of economic growth in communities throughout Missouri. However, despite the critical role they play in driving our state’s economy, rising healthcare costs threaten their own economic prosperity. But the General Assembly can help ease this burden and eliminate hospital dishonest billing.

The widespread practice of dishonest billing occurs when large, corporate hospitals secretly reclassify a doctor’s office that they own as a hospital setting to charge more. On average, dishonest billing increases hospital bills by more than 14 percent. No one should be forced to pay a dishonest “hospital facility” fee for a regular doctor visit. It’s billing behavior like this that allows hospitals to pad their bottom lines – at our expense.

Employers are already struggling to keep up with inflation and are often forced to choose between growth and survival. Throw in the increased cost of maintaining their employees’ health benefits, and these small businesses are in danger of being wiped out entirely. But it’s not just inflation that’s to blame, as our mom-and-pop shops are under attack from the very institutions that are supposed to protect their health – hospitals.

As a result of hospital conglomerates often operating unchecked, billing charges spike, through practices like dishonest billing, amounting to excessive fees on all hardworking Missouri residents.

Given the important role that small businesses play in, not only boosting our economy, but uniting our communities, we must protect them from unreasonable and completely avoidable hospital charges, like dishonest billing, that keep small businesses from hiring more employees, growing their businesses, and reinvesting in Missouri communities.

I ask that the General Assembly address dishonest billing in the upcoming legislative session and promote legislation to ensure honest billing practices by hospitals that drive affordable healthcare for the Missouri small business community. We must hold hospitals accountable and support our small business champions. Our economy and communities depend on it.