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Lawmakers call for shining 'bright light' on health costs

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Two Republican lawmakers Monday tried to build support for proposed requirements that they said would provide information to consumers about health-care costs.

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, held a news conference to pitch bills (SB 1496 and HB 1175) aimed at increasing "transparency" and helping patients compare prices for services.

Bradley said the goal is to shine a "bright light" on health-care costs.

"Florida families pay more and more each year for health care, and they're tired of it,'' Bradley said.

The proposals come after Gov. Rick Scott's administration has spent months questioning costs of services at hospitals, including accusing the industry of "price gouging" -- an allegation that the industry refutes.

The bills, in part, call for hospitals to post online information about payments they have received for "bundles" of services and procedures.

Also, upon request, hospitals would be required to give estimates of anticipated charges before non-emergency services are provided to patients.

The Senate bill also would allow administrative fines for "unconscionable" prices, based on investigative findings of the state's insurance consumer advocate. But Bradley said he did not see a desire in the Legislature to create criminal penalties.