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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - New information released by the federal government shows some big differences in the prices that hospitals charge for the same procedures.

Consumer advocates welcome the release of the figures, saying any time you can have more transparency in the health care industry, the better it is for patients.

The figures released show one hospital can charge thousands more for the same procedure than another hospital just a few miles away, including hospitals here in Maine. Hospital officials say it's the same economics that are at play in the business world.

"Costs will vary from hospitals to hospitals, like they will from business to business depending on the make up of their clientele, their energy costs. All of the variables that any business has, applies to hospitals as well". said Jeff Austin of the Maine Hospital Association.

Advocates say there's no way to explain away the huge variations.

"When you see how great the variation is, three four times, one charging ten thousand and one charging forty thousand. That's not sufficient to answer the question, why is the variation so great? ", said Joe Ditre of Consumers for Affordable Health Care.

The figures that maine hospitals charge, along with hospitals across the country, are available on the website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.