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Source & Scope of Public Health Legal Powers

American Hospital Association, et al. v. Azar

Overview

American Hospital Association, et al. v. Azar (U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, December 29, 2020): The D.C. Circuit upheld a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation requiring that hospitals publish the prices they charge insurance companies for services/medications. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires hospitals to publicize “standard charges,” which HHS construed to include the negotiated prices paid by insurers. The American Hospital Association (AHA) challenged the regulation, arguing that HHS misconstrued the ACA, failed to properly weigh the rule’s benefits/burdens, and compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment. On this latter claim, AHA acknowledged the government’s legitimate interest in promoting price transparency and lowering healthcare costs. Yet, it claimed the rule did not achieve those goals because consumers could not make effective use of the required information. Rejecting each of these arguments, the court upheld the rule. Read the full decision here

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