Modern Healthcare

Trump administra­tion makes big push for transparen­cy

- — Michael Brady

The Trump administra­tion made a full-court press in 2019 when it doubled down on its efforts to bring the power of market forces to bear on the historical­ly murky world of healthcare prices.

HHS brass fervently argued that exposing prices would increase competitio­n, making patients more aggressive shoppers. Providers would ultimately be forced to win over patients by focusing on quality, patient experience and value.

The administra­tion made a big statement last month in a final rule that will require hospitals starting January 2021 to publish their standard charges online in a machinerea­dable format. They will need to create at least 300 “shoppable” services, including 70 selected by the CMS. Hospital groups are suing to block the rule claiming it violates the First Amendment.

The agency is also pursuing rules that would force insurers to disclose their negotiated rates.

Drugmakers were caught up in the push for transparen­cy as well when the administra­tion pushed a policy that would require them to list prices in TV ads, but that was thrown out by a federal court.

The CMS also sought to slash healthcare spending through brute force. The agency continued its cuts to hospitals through its site-neutral payment and 340B drug payment policies. But the courts ruled against the CMS on both regulation­s, saying the agency oversteppe­d its authority when it approved the payment changes. The administra­tion pushed ahead anyway because it thinks it will win on appeal.

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