By Jon Dougherty
In another effort to contrast himself with “do-nothing Democrats” in Congress, POTUS Donald Trump is planning to use executive actions to substantially lower healthcare costs for all Americans.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the president is preparing to issue an executive order forcing healthcare providers — hospitals, internists, specialists, etc. — to reveal the discounted and negotiated rates for various procedures that they negotiate with insurance companies.
POTUS wants to bring more transparency to healthcare pricing — an industry used to conducting such transactions in private — so that Americans can take advantage of lower costs.
The order would force more transparency among health-care pricing, an industry that is accustomed to transacting in private.
The paper noted:
The order could direct federal agencies to pursue actions to force a host of players in the industry to divulge cost data, the people said. The administration is also looking at using agencies such as the Justice Department to tackle regional monopolies of hospitals and health-insurance plans over concerns they are driving up the cost of care, according to two people familiar with the discussions. …
The White House has been working for months on a strategy officials believe will lower health-care costs by giving consumers and employers data for the first time on the discounted and negotiated rates between insurers, hospitals, doctors and other providers.
Internal administrative disputes over how aggressively to mandate price disclosure have delayed earlier plans to issue an executive order, two people said, and some details of the current order are still being completed. Meetings at the White House are planned Friday over the details of the executive order, one person familiar with the discussions said.
Two people familiar with the strategy say the White House would derive its authority from a number of existing laws, to include the 21st Century Cures Act, the Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
The WSJ also reported: “The administration is also likely to use a coming hospital outpatient rule to require hospitals to disclose their negotiated rates with insurers, two people said. The rule is expected this summer.”
Who’s opposed to more transparency in pricing? Why, ‘industry groups,’ of course. That would include hospital and insurance lobbyists at a bare minimum.
“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, told the WSJ.
“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.”
We’ll see. Tired of Democrat obstruction and congressional inaction, the president seems willing to try new approaches in order to get healthcare costs under control and lowered without mucking up the entire industry with full government control, a.k.a. socialized medicine under some “Medicare-for-all” scheme that is prohibitively expensive.
Naturally, we expect this presidential action to be challenged in federal court and, likely, ruled “unconstitutional” at least for the first couple of rounds. But it’s good to see POTUS using the authorities he has to deliver on a key campaign promise since even Republicans failed to help him repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10