June 6, 2024Fiduciary Responsibility in Healthcare

Fiduciary responsibilities serve as a cornerstone of ethical governance and financial stewardship. These duties encompass the obligation to act in the best interests of health plan participants, establish prudent resource management, and ensure unwavering transparency in financial dealings.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued two price transparency mandates: one for Hospitals Transparency in Care which went into effect January 1, 2021, and one for Health Plans Transparency in Coverage which went into effect January 1, 2022. Compliance with these regulatory standards are non-negotiable imperatives for healthcare organizations. This evolving regulatory framework underscores the need for diligent adherence to guidelines that safeguard patient interests and uphold ethical standards. Non-compliance not only exposes organizations and individuals to legal liabilities and financial penalties but also erodes trust among stakeholders. As the data available to plan sponsors to make prudent purchasing decisions becomes more accessible through efforts to increase price transparency, it is becoming more important for Health Plans and Administrators to demonstrate that they are being excellent financial stewards. Not doing so exposes organizations to potential litigation as seen in some of the examples below. 

A class action complaint filed by Berger Montague alleged that Anthem, now operating under the name Elevance, was in violation of federal laws by refusing self-funded health plans access to their own plan claims data. This purported refusal, according to the complaint, was part of Anthem’s strategy to conceal prices paid to providers and to withhold negotiated discounts from the plans. Clients represented by Berger Montague, including Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1 Fund (BAC Local 1) and Sheet Metal Workers Local 40 Fund (SMW Local 40), accused Anthem of engaging in prolonged negotiations without genuine intent to provide access to requested data. The complaint contends that Anthem utilized unlawful gag clauses in its agreements to obstruct the funds’ access to their own claims data, including negotiated discounted rates with providers.

Despite Anthem’s resistance, BAC Local 1 and SMW Local 40 Trustees managed to obtain limited network claims data and conducted comparisons between prices paid for services and Anthem’s negotiated rates. Discrepancies were allegedly found, suggesting Anthem’s failure to apply promised discounts and pass on entitled savings to the plans. 

This legal dispute has broader implications for healthcare insurers, highlighting the critical importance of fulfilling fiduciary responsibilities and complying with Transparency Regulations. Insurers must navigate complex legal and ethical considerations to prioritize the plan participants’ best interests while maintaining transparency and accountability in their operations.1

The consequences of regulatory non-compliance within the healthcare industry can be profound and far-reaching, affecting both Providers and Payers in significant ways:

Financial Penalties: Regulatory violations often lead to substantial financial penalties imposed by government agencies or regulatory bodies. These penalties can range from fines to legal settlements, impacting healthcare organizations’ financial stability and reputation.

Legal Ramifications: These may include lawsuits, class-action claims, or investigations initiated by regulatory authorities. The costs associated with legal defense and settlements can be substantial, further straining organizational resources. Critically, individuals with decision making authority on behalf of the plan can also face personal liability for failing to meet their fiduciary duty to the plan and plan participants.

Erosion of Trust and Reputation: The perception of unethical conduct or negligence in compliance can damage an organization’s reputation and credibility.

Loss of Competitive Advantage: Non-compliance can deter potential patients, partners, or insurers from engaging with the organization.

With the availability of Price Transparency data, employers and consumers are equipped with important pricing information to determine if they are accessing the highest quality and most affordable care possible. Health Plans have an obligation to ensure that they are being excellent financial stewards and enabling affordable health care. Healthcare organizations must embrace transparency and adopt a culture of continuous improvement, leveraging transparency data to not only uphold their fiduciary responsibilities, but also for competitive differentiation.

As covered in our last blog post, Exploring the Potential of MRFs in Healthcare, Machine Readable Files (MRFs) play a pivotal role in healthcare negotiations and compliance by providing structured and standardized datasets that facilitate informed decision-making. These files are instrumental in several key areas:

Benchmarking: MRFs enable Providers and Payers to benchmark performance metrics against industry standards and peers.

Negotiation: MRFs provide valuable insights into contracted rates, reimbursement structures, and pricing transparency in negotiation processes.

Network Optimization: For Payers, MRFs support network optimization efforts by analyzing Provider performance, quality metrics, and cost efficiency.

The adoption of MRFs also facilitates fiduciary responsibility in healthcare operations by promoting data integrity, interoperability, and regulatory compliance. Key benefits of leveraging MRFs include:

Enhanced Data Accuracy: MRFs ensure the accuracy and consistency of healthcare data, minimizing errors and discrepancies in negotiation processes.

Improved Regulatory Compliance: By incorporating MRFs into operations, healthcare stakeholders can demonstrate compliance with regulatory mandates, such as pricing transparency requirements and data interoperability standards.

Streamlined Reporting: MRFs streamline reporting processes, enabling Providers and Payers to generate comprehensive reports for regulatory agencies, auditors, and internal stakeholders.

MRFs serve as indispensable tools for promoting fiduciary compliance, transparency, and data-driven decision-making within healthcare. By harnessing the power of MRFs, Providers and Payers can optimize operations, mitigate risks, and uphold the highest standards of regulatory compliance and ethical governance in an evolving healthcare landscape.

Intelligent Health Markets represent a paradigm shift in how healthcare entities navigate fiduciary responsibilities. They refer to a sophisticated ecosystem where stakeholders in the healthcare industry interact through data-driven platforms and technologies. 

This market intelligence framework enables real-time decision-making, fosters collaboration, and promotes transparency across healthcare. By analyzing comprehensive datasets, they facilitate evidence-based decision-making and strategic planning. Real-time visibility into financial transactions and operational metrics fosters transparency and accountability.

It also fosters collaborative governance among healthcare stakeholders, promoting trust and accountability. Transparent communication channels and shared data repositories enable proactive risk management and regulatory compliance. Stakeholders can collaborate on quality improvement initiatives, negotiate contracts, and monitor performance metrics collectively within the framework.

As healthcare organizations navigate the complexities of regulatory compliance and operational efficiency, MacroHealth offers a comprehensive solution to harness the power of Intelligent Health Markets.

MacroHealth understands the complexities of the healthcare landscape and the critical need for advanced solutions to effectively address regulatory challenges.  

At the heart of our solution is the MacroHealth Intelligent Exchange™ (MiX) platform – a transformative solution that provides healthcare organizations with a transparent, proactive, data-driven approach to healthcare management. By embracing advanced technologies and data analytics, Providers and Payers can gain actionable insights, identify opportunities for improvement and adapt swiftly to regulatory changes.

This proactive stance not only ensures transparency, greater capability for choice, and a more comprehensive approach to ensuring a financially optimal solution, but also fosters innovation, improves patient outcomes, and enhances the overall quality of care.

In this exploration of fiduciary responsibilities within healthcare, we have underscored the critical importance of compliance and transparency in navigating regulatory challenges. Fiduciary responsibilities extend beyond financial stewardship; they encompass ethical obligations to prioritize patient care and uphold the integrity of healthcare operations.

Proactive regulatory adherence is imperative for mitigating risks and fostering trust among stakeholders. Proactive measures include leveraging advanced technologies like Intelligent Health Markets to streamline compliance processes and enhance governance.

MacroHealth invites you to explore our innovative MiX platform. Together, we can navigate regulatory complexities and uphold the highest standards of fiduciary responsibility.

Watch our demo video to explore the transformative capabilities of MacroHealth and how you can make confident, data-backed decisions.


  1. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/berger-montague-clients-file-class-action-against-anthem-for-improperly-restricting-access-to-plan-claims-data-and-failing-to-properly-apply-its-negotiated-discounts-to-claims-301697323.html

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