May 8, 2013

Maine panel hears about high cost of hospital care

A proposed bill would allow the publishing of hospital financial data so consumers can compare pricing from hospital to hospital.

By Michael Shepherd
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

According to a press release, inpatient charges for a joint replacement range from a low of $5,300 at a hospital in Oklahoma to a high of $223,000 at a hospital in California. One Jackson, Miss. hospital charged an average of $9,000 for heart-failure treatment. Another charged $51,000.

However, Maine hospitals fared well, according to a New York Times visualization of the federal data: Every state hospital, on average, billed Medicare less than the national average in fiscal year 2011 for those common treatments and procedures.

“What they pay us is lower than what they pay in other states,” Austin said. 

Still, Maine known to be a big health spender. For 2009, Kaiser also found that Maine is among the biggest state spenders on health care — fourth highest, behind Massachusetts, Alaska and Connecticut at $8,521 per capita. 

The foundation attributed that to high enrollment in and use of Medicaid, the nation’s health care system for the poor, saying it had “one of the highest shares of Medicaid enrollees as a proportion of its population” and “these enrollees consumed 18 percent more health care compared to the national average for Medicaid spending per enrollee.

Explosive Medicaid growth has been a main reason legislative Republicans say they are wary of Medicaid expansion, proposed by the federal government and cheered by legislative Democrats.

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation has projected that Maine will save $690 million in the next 10 years if it accepts federal dollars under the Affordable Care Act to provide care to approximately 55,000 Mainers, but Republicans are concerned about what will happen once the 10-year period is up.

State House Bureau Writer Michael Shepherd can be reached at 370-7652 or:

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)