President and CEO
American Hospital Association
May 17, 2022
Once again, the RAND Corporation’s latest hospital pricing report overreaches and jumps to unfounded conclusions based on incomplete data. The report looks at claims for just 2.2% of overall hospital spending, which, no matter how you slice it, represents a small share of what actually happens in hospitals and health systems in the real world. RAND also continues to ignore that hospitals are not all the same. Researchers should expect variation in the cost of delivering services across the wide range of U.S. hospitals – from rural critical access hospitals to large academic medical centers. Tellingly, when RAND added more claims as compared to previous versions of this report, the average price for hospital services declined. This suggests what we have long suspected: you simply cannot draw credible conclusions from such a limited and biased set of claims.
Further, the results highlight what even the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) acknowledges: Medicare does not fully cover the cost of providing care to Medicare beneficiaries. Pinning commercial prices to inadequate Medicare rates would cause even more financial strain to hospitals already facing tremendous challenges as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and rising inflation. The result could be reduced patient access to care.