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Capitol Health Call
March 14, 2012

Seeking Price Transparency

JAMA. 2012;307(10):1015. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.256

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the lack of price transparency by manufacturers of implantable medical devices may be driving up health care costs. The devices are sold to hospitals, which pass the cost on to insurers, including Medicare.

The GAO report, requested by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen Max Baucus (D, Mont) and released January 13, noted that implantable medical devices, such as cardiac defibrillators and hip and knee joint replacements, represent a significant share of a hospital's supply costs. But hospitals lack the information to compare medical device prices across manufacturers, because purchasing agreements typically contain confidentiality clauses that restrict hospitals from revealing prices to third parties (http://tinyurl.com/7ld6jjn).