Legislature Considers Ban On Hospital Advertising

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(Host)  The legislature is considering a ban on hospital advertising as one way to control health care costs. 

The ban is part of a larger bill introduced by Middlebury Representative Steve Maier. 

Maier says some estimates indicate that Vermont hospitals spend about $10 million annually on advertising and marketing. 

He says it’s a small, but not insignificant part of overall health care spending.  

Maier says hospital advertising that attempts to draw patients away from other hospitals underscores a basic flaw in the system.

(Maier) "The whole reason you would advertise to bring patients your way is based on the way you pay our hospitals and our doctors and we pay them based on volume or numbers or procedures."

(Host) Maier says the ban would not prevent hospitals from advertising to fill job openings. 

Bea Grause of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Care Systems says the idea raises a number of concerns.

She says much of the advertising done by hospitals is not done to attract patients away from other facilities.

(Grause) "The main reason that I have heard back from my members is why they advertise is to mostly keep their patients in their community, but also to let them know the services that they have."

(Host)  Grause also says border hospitals would be put at a competitive disadvantage if they can’t advertise services that are provided by facilities in New Hampshire or New York. 

The hospital advertising ban is part of a health care cost containment bill currently being considered by a house committee.

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