We commend the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for promulgating a proposed rule that includes the health industry. In particular, we focus on the application of the proposed rule to “facility fees,” which are charges that ostensibly cover operational expenses of hospitals. Facility fees are billed separately from fees for the services of physicians, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals.

As hospitals acquire physician practices and other previously independent providers, patients are seeing facility fee charges more frequently – including for services in freestanding physician offices and telehealth services, for example. Notably, facility fees are increasing faster than other categories of health care spending. Patients are often surprised by facility fees, which can significantly increase out-of-pocket costs and lead to medical debt. The Biden Administration has expressed concern about the increase in such facility fees.

As the FTC seeks to limit unfair or deceptive fees – particularly those that provide little or no value to the consumer – it is appropriate and timely to include facility fees, which contribute to rising health care costs and the medical debt crisis facing our country. We urge the FTC to protect patients from hidden, misleading, and excessive facility fees.