President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order aimed at requiring greater disclosure of prices in the health care sector.
The Wall Street Journal reports that sources in the administration say the directive could come as early as next week. It would direct federal agencies to demand price disclosures from health insurers and hospitals.
The executive order seeks to force insurers to reveal the discounts they negotiate with hospitals for various medical services.
Defenders of the status quo say that revealing the negotiated rates could lead to price increases. If hospitals see that their competitors are getting a better deal from insurers, it could embolden them to demand higher reimbursement rates, which would ultimately get passed onto patients.
The proposal will likely be vehemently opposed by major health care players, including hospitals, insurers and groups representing doctors.
“Transparency for transparency’s sake, and forced disclosure of thousands upon thousands of competitively negotiated rates, will not help consumers,” Matt Eyles, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an association of health insurers, tells the Wall Street Journal. “Instead, it will cause health-care costs to go up for every American. To improve access and affordability, we need to work together to improve competition, choice and collaboration.”
There has been division within the administration over the approach to take on health care pricing, with some officials favoring a more aggressive policy. Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, has not supported a number of proposals aimed at drug and insurance price transparency.
Ironically, the Affordable Care Act, whose repeal Trump continues to campaign for, is one of the laws the administration is citing in advancing pricing disclosures.
The executive order is not the only attack on price secrecy in Washington. Members of both parties in Congress have been putting forth a variety of proposals aimed at greater transparency on all aspects of the health care system, including health plans, medical services and prescription medication.
Last year Congress overwhelmingly approved a law barring pharmacy benefit managers from imposing “gag clauses” on pharmacists. Such clauses prohibited pharmacies from informing patients that they would pay less for a medication by paying out-of-pocket than through their prescription drug plan.
Original article from Benefits Pro.