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The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and the American Hospital Association are working together on an initiative to improve hospital billing. "Patient-Friendly Billing," an initiative by the two Chicago-based organizations, aims to identify the reasons for the complexity of the current billing systems, the barriers to billing simplification, and best practices in patient billing communication, according to Richard L. Clarke, FHFMA, president and CEO of HFMA. "Patients often do not understand what is being charged, what their insurance should pay, what they owe, and why they owe it," Clarke says. "Research suggests it is the main complaint by the public about hospitals. A few days’ stay can result in 10-15 pages of detailed charges. The process of accumulating these charges is a nightmare of automatic and manual input, and electronic and paper hand-offs."
A report issued by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services says most emergency department staff and on-call physicians that it polled are familiar with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), but many are unaware of recent policy changes and believe current regulations exceed the intent of the law.
The OIG posted two final reports in late January EMTALA. The first, "Survey of Hospital Emergency Departments," concludes that additional efforts should be made to communicate policy decisions, and legislation should be supported that compels managed care plans to reimburse hospitals for EMTALA-related services. The second report, "The Enforcement Process," states EMTALA enforcement is compromised by long delays, inadequate feedback, and regional inconsistencies.