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A photo of a hospital emergency room sign

Source: (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

STATEHOUSE — You have heard advocates for Indiana’s hospitals blast a bill that they say would put “price caps” in place to cut healthcare costs.

However, advocates on the other side of the argument believe the bill they are referring to will help Hoosiers greatly when it comes to lowering what you pay for healthcare in Indiana.

“A couple of our founding board members were there when the RAND 3.0 study was released (a few years ago),” said Matt Bell with Hoosiers for Affordable Healthcare. “At the time it revealed that Hoosiers pay the sixth highest price in the country for hospital services.”

Bell wonders how that can be given Indiana has one of the lowest costs of living in the country. He accuses hospitals, mainly those among Indiana’s five largest healthcare providers, of using that gap to boost profits.

Indiana Hospital Association president Brian Tabor told Indy Politic this week that Hoosier hospitals have had a rough time financially in the last couple of years due to COVID, staffing shortages, and an underfunded Medicaid program in Indiana.

Bell does not deny any of those issues plaguing hospitals but said according to data he has gathered/read it has not impacted their bottom line at all.

“Each of those five systems (Franciscan Alliance, IU Health, Ascension Health, Community Health, and Parkview) have more cash, cash equivalent, and better financial balances than they had pre-COVID,” Bell said. “And that is after a bad year in the stock market last year.”

Bell said that House Bell 1004, which Tabor said would implement price caps on hospitals, in fact, does not mention anything about “price caps” on hospitals. In a nutshell, the bill states that hospitals that fail to find ways to reduce hospital care costs voluntarily will be accessed a financial penalty.

So far the bill has had a couple of readings in the State Senate after it passed in the Indiana House on an 85-11 vote.