With high health care costs now a rare bipartisan issue and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle demanding action, President Trump issued an executive order on June 25 to increase transparency in hospital prices, physician fees and other health care providers to disclose more information about their billing and pricing.
The purpose of the order, entitled “Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First,” is to direct federal agencies to issue regulations to improve the transparency of health care prices and quality in order to create a more competitive marketplace and provide consumers with the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.
More specifically, the executive order:
- Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue regulations within 60 days that would require hospitals to publicly post standard charge information, including information based on negotiated rates, in an easy-to-understand format.
- Requires the Secretaries of HHS, Treasury, and Labor to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking within 90 days seeking comment on proposals to require health care providers, insurers, and self-insured group plans to provide consumer access to information about expected out-of-pocket costs before they receive health care services.
- Requires the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission, to issue a report within 180 days on ways the federal government or private sector impede health care price and quality transparency for patients, with recommended solutions.
- Directs the Secretary of HHS, within 180 days and in consultation with other federal departments and agencies, to increase access to de-identified claims data from taxpayer-funded health care programs and group health plans for researchers, innovators, providers, and entrepreneurs to facilitate the development of tools that empower patients to be better informed purchasers of care.
- Requires the Secretary of the Treasury, within 180 days, to propose regulations to treat expenses related to certain types of arrangements, potentially including direct primary care and health care sharing ministries, as eligible medical expenses for Health Care Savings Accounts, and to increase the amount of funds in flexible spending accounts that can carry over at the end of the year without penalty.
- Directs the Secretary of HHS to submit a report to the President within 180 days on additional administrative steps that can be taken to address the issue of surprise medical bills.