Published: Thu, June 27, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Trump Signs ‘Bigger Than Health Care’ Order Requiring Hospitals to Disclose Charges

Trump Signs ‘Bigger Than Health Care’ Order Requiring Hospitals to Disclose Charges

President Donald Trump speaks alongside medical professionals and patients before signing the Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First executive order at the White House on Monday. Also, those list charges don't reflect the discounted rates insurers have negotiated, so they are of little use to insured patients who might want to compare prices from hospital to hospital. The administration will also include industry input, the officials said.

The order requires HHS to propose a way to make health care providers and insurers give patients an estimate of their out-of-pocket costs ahead of service.

Azar noted that the order would also require HHS to collaborate with other federal departments to develop new regulatory strategies to address "surprise billing" in ways that complement Congress" legislative efforts and to identify other "barriers to price transparency and "shopability' in healthcare".

"Every day, American patients are being taken advantage of by a system that hides critical information from them", Azar said on a conference call with reporters. Industry officials say that such contractual information is tantamount to trade secrets and should remain private.

However, critics - including many representing insurers' interests - say providers may raise prices if they get ahold of their competitors' prices.

Push back from various corners of the healthcare industry came quickly, with hospital and health plan lobbying organizations arguing this transparency requirement would have the unintended outcome of pushing prices up, rather than down. The changes are likely to face significant pushback from the health care industry.

This is the third executive order President Trump has signed relating to healthcare.

Proponents of the policy, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar, believe price transparency empowers patients to choose low-priced healthcare services.

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Mr. Trump and his Republican allies failed to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Details of the executive order were described earlier by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, whose department will draft the regulations.

"From a consumer protection standpoint, it's hard to justify a system where patients can't know in advance what they're going to have to pay for health care".

The administration has already taken some initial steps to require drug makers and medical providers to release more cost information, though it has generally focused on the industry's list prices rather than the negotiated rates or what consumers are actually billed.

The order follows the administration making a requirement for drug manufacturers to disclose their drug prices in their television advertisements. Several drug makers recently filed a lawsuit aimed at blocking the rule. CMS now requires hospitals to post their standard charges online in a machine-readable format, though the agency has acknowledged it has no real way to enforce the requirement and hospitals have been spotty in compliance. He also blamed Democrat lawmakers for supporting democratic socialist Sen.

"This is a big action", Trump said during the signing at the White House.

The health insurance lobby has pushed back at disclosing rates it negotiates with hospitals, deeming it proprietary information.

"I'm not sure how aggregate information on rates will help patients, many of whom will have different types of coverage or be at different places in spending down their deductible", said Niall Brennan, chief executive of the Health Care Cost Institute, a non-profit research organization.

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