MAUMEE Republican Rep. Lynn Olman is doing a service to countless Ohioans with his bill that prevents hospitals from gouging patients who want copies of their hospital records.

But his bill doesn't go far enough because it appears to exclude hospitals that contract with companies to provide these copying services. This means, unfortunately, that the Olman proposal can be circumvented.

The prices his bill allows also seem too high in light of the current price of public record copies, especially now that copying machines are so automated and less labor intensive.
For years hospitals and their contracted copying services have been gouging patients who want their records because they are moving, because they need them for litigation, and for countless other reasons.

As Mr. Olman noted, one patient was charged $612 for a 508-page copy.
His bill would cap the initial record search at $15, with copying fees of $1 a page that could be added for the first 10 pages, 50 cents a page for the next 40, and 20 cents a page after that. Consumers can use copy machines at 10 to 15 cents a page, depending on the payment method, in the public library. Prices as low as a nickel have been spotted.

If reduced rates fly in the face of hospital contracts, so be it. If open records laws can supersede union contracts, and they have done so, there is no reason why they can't supersede contracts that are distinctly anti-patient, and thus against the public interest.

Mr. Olman's bill passed the Ohio House 92-1, which speaks to its universal appeal. Its pizzazz is unlikely to fade in the Senate, where it should win enthusiastic approval after appropriate amendments.

The hospital lobby will likely get frenzied. Legislators should ignore their spouting. They could have gotten it right had they based their record-copying programs on the premise that they are nonprofits in the service business, not monopolistic gougers.

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© Copyright 2008 State Representative Lynn Olman. All rights reserved.


I-280 Bridge
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