Unions Pushed for Package to Address Out-of-Control Hospital Pricing


December 9, 2022



Rush Perez

(347) 515-4386

New York, NY –Today, December 9, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Hospital Equity and Affordability Law, or HEAL Act into law. This Spring, the bill passed both the NYS Assembly and NYS Senate. Sponsored by state Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, the legislation bars certain hospital contracting practices that can lead to skyrocketing healthcare costs. 

The bill marks a major step forward in addressing high hospital prices, the leading driver of healthcare costs for working New Yorkers. HEAL would forbid hospital networks from using gag clauses and most favored nation clauses in their contracts with insurance companies and healthcare payers. Gag clauses allow hospitals to hide the prices they are charging from the payers themselves as well as forbidding payers from revealing prices publicly. Most Favored Nation clauses allow a powerful hospital system and insurance provider to set an artificially high price floor for an entire market.

“Passing the Hospital Equity and Affordability Law is a strong step toward beginning to heal the lack of transparency that plagues our healthcare system and makes it harder for working people to afford quality care,” said 32BJ President Kyle Bragg. “Instead of being able to continue raising prices out of public view, we can now shine a bright light on these outrageous practices and hold hospitals more accountable to the people they’re supposed to serve.  We commend Governor Hochul for her leadership in signing this bill into law and congratulate the sponsors, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz and Senator Andrew Gounardes, as well as legislative leaders Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie for being true champions for affordable and accountable healthcare.”

“Every New Yorker deserves access to quality, affordable health care and the HEAL Act is a major step forward as we work to achieve that goal. This legislation will increase fairness and transparency in hospital prices, and will increase competition to keep costs low for New Yorkers. I’m proud to sign this bill into law, and thank Kyle Bragg and 32BJ SEIU for their tremendous advocacy to pass this new law, and for their hard work to keep all New Yorkers healthy and well,” said Governor Kathy Hochul.

“We’re pleased that the Governor has signed HEAL.  With the passage of HEAL, entities like self-insured plans that contract with third-party administrators for provider networks will be able to share actual claims costs publicly,” said state Senator Andrew Gounardes. “This will allow for the disclosure of actual hospital prices and other health care prices by and between self-insured plans and other groups who are committed to containing ever-increasing health care costs.  Public disclosure of actual claims costs will increase health care cost transparency and support efforts to make health care more affordable.”

“For years we’ve seen the deck stacked against working people, forced to pay steadily increasing hospital prices without knowing why or for what reason. But with the passage of HEAL we have a real game-changer that will start to bring the transparency to hospital pricing that we need to level the playing field for patients. More pricing information means better decisions and the potential for better negotiated rates. I applaud Governor Hochul for standing on the side of working people and showing everyone that when it comes to hospital pricing, NY can be the sunshine state,” said Assemblymember Catalina Cruz.

“We commend Governor Hochul for signing the Hospital Equity and Affordability Law,” said UFCW Local 1500 President Robert W. Newell Jr. “This pro-worker legislation will provide transparency to hospital pricing systems, lowering costs for hardworking New Yorkers and driving down inflationary pressures on our state’s budget.”

“For years, we’ve seen working people at the mercy of outrageous hospital pricing, not knowing how much or why costs are so high but having no other options during their most vulnerable moments,” said DC37 President Henry Garrido. “Now, with the passage of HEAL we can turn the tables and put the power back into the hands of the people by bringing some much-needed transparency to hospital pricing. I want to personally thank Governor Hochul for fulfilling her promise to fight for working families by signing this bill and applaud its two main sponsors, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz and Senator Andrew Gounardes, for leading this fight with us.”

“New York labor unions, including Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW facilitate health coverage for millions of working New Yorkers and their families. The continually increasing costs of hospital services has meant that other benefits such as wage increases are often sacrificed to keep up with the rise in medical costs. The Hospital Equity and Accountability Law (HEAL) will create hospital pricing transparency and allow unions and other self-insured plans to offer better, low-cost health care options. In effect, putting money back in the pockets of union members. We want to commend Senator Gounardes and Assemblymember Cruz for their tireless advocacy and Governor Hochul for signing this important piece of legislation and continuing her commitment to uplifting working people,” said Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW President John Durso.

“The HEAL Act is a significant victory for Empire State healthcare consumers. It increases healthcare price transparency so employers, unions, and patients can shop for the best quality care at the lowest possible price. It promotes healthcare competition and transparency, the most effective ways to reverse the runaway costs of care and coverage that are burdening so many New Yorkers,” said Cynthia Fisher, Founder and Chairman,

“The passing of the HEAL act is a true testament to the solidarity of hardworking New Yorkers, including our local and state representatives and our labor Unions who together have refused to stand by in apathy as the corporate greed of NY Hospitals runs amok. Access to data and unlocking price transparency are the keys to reining in the runaway costs and hidden prices of healthcare in New York and across the country. The passing of this law helps to prevent the continuation of a healthcare system that has forced patients into the vulnerable position of being at the mercy of hospitals who prioritize profits above all else. The implementation of the HEAL Act should be celebrated as a reminder to all of us that there is nothing distinguished about a civilization not working to lessen the burden on citizens facing a health adversity,” said Kevin Morra, Co-Founder Power to the Patients.

The legislation was sparked by findings that New York hospital systems charge vastly different prices for the same procedures. A report by the 32BJ Health Fund found that:

  • Private hospital networks charged the Fund over 300% of what they charged Medicare for the same services. The Fund, if charged the same rate as Medicare, would have saved roughly $1.1 billion from 2016-2019 (58%).
  • The 32BJ Health Fund report found no correlation between increased hospital prices and enhanced quality of care or improved health outcomes for patients.
  • New York City may be overpaying for city employee hospital costs by more than $2 billion per year if its hospital pricing and spending patterns matched the rest of the state.
  • Escalating healthcare prices may have cost 32BJ members as much as $5,000 a year in wage increases over the past decade.
  • Hospitals charge vastly disparate prices for similar care. For example:
    • The average aggregate cost charged for a C section at Montefiore was $55,077 for the 32BJ Health Fund, but only $30,175 at Mt Sinai, and $17,861 at HHC.
    • The average aggregate cost charged for a colonoscopy at NY Presbyterian was $10,368 for the 32BJ Health Fund, but only $4,139 at Mt Sinai and $2,185 at HHC.
  •  New York City hospital costs have increased significantly faster than surrounding states and are much higher than costs in Boston, a comparably expensive market.


With more than 175,000 members in 12 states, including Washington DC, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers’ union in the country.