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Rucho, Brown bill: Take mystery out of hospital bills

Taking aim at a hospital billing system that is shrouded in mystery, two N.C. senators introduced legislation Wednesday that they say would make it far easier for patients to shop for the best prices on medical procedures, The Charlotte Observer's Ames Alexander writes.

Hospitals would be required to publicly disclose their prices on their most common medical procedures under the bill, sponsored by Republican senators Bob Rucho of Matthews and Harry Brown of Jacksonville.

The legislation would also set up financial rewards for hospitals that provide low-cost care – and would ban a type of double-billing now common in radiology.

The legislation was prompted by a series of stories last year in The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer, “Prognosis: Profits,” which found that nonprofit hospitals in North Carolina are inflating prices on drugs and procedures, sometimes as much as 10 times over cost.

Find the full story here.

Morning Roundup: New Supreme Court pick, worker comp fix, Dem Party chair bows out

The governor has selected an appellate court judge for the opening on the state Supreme Court. Judge Cheri Beasley has a lot in common with the justice she will replace.

A panel of lawmakers tackled an unanticipated loophole that prevented employees from finding out if their employer carries the right worker compensation insurance.

Embattled Democratic Party chairman David Parker announces he'll step down.

Sen. Hunt will co-chair budget committee

The Triangle will have a state senator on one of the most important committees in the General Assembly next session. Sen. Neal Hunt, a four-term Republican from Raleigh, will be one of three co-chairmen of the Senate Committee on Appropriations/Base Budget.

Senate leader Phil Berger's campaign piggybank grows fat

Senate leader Phil Berger raised more than $320,000 so far this year, putting his campaign war chest on par with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Etheridge.

Berger isn't seeking statewide office but he does face a Republican primary challenger in his re-election bid. As the Senate leader, he is also in a strong position to raise campaign cash from those interested in influencing the process.

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