"We're not doing this in isolation. And this is not a publicity stunt," he says. "It's part of a process to improve how our revenue is generated, and the understandability of what goes on in our hospital."
The irrelevance and absurdity of the Chargemaster became a hot-button issue in February after a Timemagazine article highlighted outrageous charges for certain hospital procedures at some organizations.
The controversy was reignited in May when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for the first time released its Chargemaster data, a voluminous document showing how much hospitals bill versus what Medicare pays, for 100 of the most common diagnostic and treatment codes. Health plans and Medicare, as well as Medicaid, pay hospitals far less than what the document shows.
"I don't think there's any mystery," Birkenstock says. "It's just our way of doing what almost every other hospital is doing now. "Maybe everybody isn't rolling back their charges by 30%, but I would guess that almost everybody who reads what you write has made some modification in their pricing structure with (the Chargemaster) being the driver.
"We're trying to get better at how we charge for what we do," he says. "The rules have all changed."