Pres­sure for trans­parency is back

De­spite trans­parency push, ac­tion could face de­lays

Modern Healthcare - - Front Page - Matthew Do­Bias

Mem­bers of Congress on both sides of the aisle have shown re­newed in­ter­est in man­dat­ing a boost in health­care pric­ing trans­parency. But one key player, the chair­man of the En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee’s Health Sub­com­mit­tee, Rep. Frank Pal­lone (D-N.J.), is skep­ti­cal that three bills that came be­fore that com­mit­tee last week will make it into law this year given Congress’ cal­en­dar is back­logged as a re­sult of the lengthy health­care re­form fight.

One bill, in­tro­duced by Rep. Steve Ka­gen (D-Wis.), a physi­cian, re­quires hos­pi­tals, doc­tors, nurses, phar­ma­cies and a num­ber of man­u­fac­tur­ers and ven­dors to openly dis­close prices. Fail­ure to do so would re­sult in a fi­nan­cial penalty. Ka­gen said the cur­rent sys­tem is “up­side down,” adding that it al­lows for those with no in­surance to be charged the full amount while it gives the in­sured steep dis­counts.

“Some will ar­gue that show­ing ev­ery­one all of the prices is too com­plex, for there are tens of thou­sands of prices at any given hos­pi­tals,” Ka­gen said. “But to­day’s technology al­lows all of us to go on­line on the In­ter­net and search for items to pur­chase and find ex­actly what we want to buy within mil­lisec­onds.”

An­other bill, spon­sored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) but backed by sev­eral Democrats, re­quires pub­lic and pri­vate health plans to make known what ser­vices they cover, any re­stric­tions in that cov­er­age and the cost-shar­ing re­quire­ments that are also in­volved. Two years

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