Trump Administration Outlines New Drug Price Transparency Plans

As health-care costs emerges as a crucial issue in the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump is preparing to issue an executive order aimed at increasing price transparency for health services.

The plan is still under construction, but officials who spoke with The Washington Post described one aspect that will require insurers and hospitals to disclose the discounted rates they negotiate for services – a measure that is vehemently opposed by both industries.

Tom Nickels, executive vice president for government relations and public policy at the American Hospital Association, said that forcing this disclosure “would have the ultimate anti-competitive effect.”

Kristine Grow, a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the hospital industry’s trade organization, also drew a distinction between “good” and “bad” transparency. “Good transparency provides consumers with information they can use to make their own smart decision, and causes health-care prices to go down for everyone. This is bad transparency, because it is highly likely to cause prices to go up for everyone,” she said. If the negotiating parties reveal what prices they accepted, she added, “it creates a floor for negotiations, not a ceiling.”

Other measures included in the plan have sparked less controversy, such as widening the range of services for which hospitals must publicly post their prices. This is designed to make it easier for patients with Medicare to determine and compare the costs of their treatment at various hospitals.

The full executive order is likely to be announced by mid-June.

Source: The Washington Post, May 29, 2019.