Trump Expected to Issue Executive Order in Attempt to Lower Health Care Costs

Nicole S Glass / Shutterstock

Nicole S Glass / Shutterstock

The order would compel healthcare providers, such as hospitals, to disclose information about negotiated and discounted costs of care.

Nicole S Glass / Shutterstock

A presidential executive order compelling health care transparency across the healthcare industry is expected to be issued Monday. The order will come about a month after reports first surfaced of the plan.

Late Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Donald Trump will issue the executive order as part of an effort to drive down health care costs. According to the Journal, the executive order will direct federal agencies to put into place regulations and guidances that “could require insurers, doctors, hospitals and others in the industry to provide information about the negotiated and often discounted cost of care.” The Journal reported that the Trump administration has been planning to fight these measures through the issuance of a Department of Labor rule that would force insurers to publish the negotiated rates they pay for health care services. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services has been seeking public comment regarding the rights of patients to see discounted prices ahead of seeking care. Such a rule would force hospitals and other medical practices to publicly disclose the negotiated amounts they charge insurance companies.

The goal of the executive order is to arm patients with pricing data in order to provide them with a greater control over their health care costs, which has become a key political issue ahead of the 2020 presidential election, in large part due to the increasing price of prescription drugs, such as insulin, which saw prices double between 2012 and 2016. In addition to targeting the healthcare providers, the White House also issued an executive order that will force pharmaceutical companies to disclose list pricing of prescription drugs in television advertisements.

The costs of healthcare expected to play a major role in the next election cycle and the Trump administration hopes to use these executive orders as a means to support the president’s bid for re-election. Trump launched his re-election campaign earlier this week.

Citing a survey conducted by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard and the Harris Poll, the Journal noted that 88% of voters said they “favor a government initiative mandating that insurers, hospitals, doctors and other providers disclose the cost of their services and discounted or negotiated rates.”

As could be imagined, this order is something that industry groups, including insurers and hospitals, have opposed. They claim it could cause prices to actually climb due to the fact that the disclosures could reveal some healthcare groups get larger discounts from insurers than others. Additionally, the healthcare community has argued that individuals are more concerned with their own out-of-pocket expenses, rather than the prices negotiated between insurance companies and medical providers.

As BioSpace previously reported, the White House isn’t the only political entity pushing for greater pricing disclosure. Legislation has been introduced in both chambers of Congress calling for pricing disclosure. Recently, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican., and Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado that “would end contractual gag clauses between providers such as hospitals and insurers that can restrict the ability of patients to get cost information.” In May, Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, introduced a bill that would force insurers to tell patients what their out-of-pocket expenses would be for various medications or in-network medical procedures.