Law seeks to put Florida at forefront of answering health care costs

New online database bill signed by governor last week

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – If anyone has ever needed a medical procedure, one question that always comes up: How much? A new law hopes to put Florida at the forefront of answering that question.

After Florida lawmakers pushed back against Medicaid expansion, the quest to keep health care costs down and affordable in Florida turned towards transparency.

A new online database bill was signed by the governor last week. The state's Agency for Healthcare Administration and private vendor will be required to provide pricing information online.

The state has been given low marks on health care price transparency in the past.

LuMarie Polivka-West, with the Florida Community Health Action Information Network, said it's great for consumers.

"This is one of the major costs that each of us have in our budgets," Polivka-West said. "Eighteen percent of the costs in our country goes to health care. It's a major part for all of us that we play, so this is very important information."

The Florida Hospital Association also ended up backing the bill, but not before a provision was taken out that would have penalized hospitals, something that was a priority for the governor before it was scratched out.

"The goal of this legislation is to make sure people are more informed about health care and about cost access equality, then we support that. But if the idea is just to try to penalize folks or try to create a villain, then we would not be supportive of that," FHA President Bruce Reuben said.

The database will cost the state almost $4 million the first year and then $600,000 for data collection and storage the year after.

The law goes into effect July 1 with a vendor bid process open until Oct. 1 of this year. There is no set timeline for when the website will be up.