Latest move to address rising health care costs.
On Monday, June 24, 2019, President Donald Trump signed an
executive order designed to increase pricing and quality transparency in health
care. The president’s executive order is the latest move that the Trump
administration has taken to address rising health care costs.
In May 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a rule that would require drug companies to disclose the price of prescription drugs on TV ads. In addition, Trump delivered a speech in which he laid out a blueprint for combating surprise medical billing.
Executive Order Details
With the order, the government hopes to eliminate unnecessary
barriers to health care pricing and quality transparency. Outlined below are
the steps the order lays out that are intended to achieve pricing and quality
transparency in health care.
The June 24 order states that within 60 days, HHS Secretary
Alex Azar will propose a regulation to require hospitals to post their pricing
information publicly. This published information is to be delivered in a
consumer-friendly and easy-to-understand format. It should include charges and
information based on insurance-negotiated prices and shoppable services or
items. The HHS’ proposed legislation should also require the regular updating
of this information.
Within 90 days of the order, the secretaries of HHS, the
Treasury and Labor will issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that
would require providers, insurers and self-insured health plans to provide
patients with information about expected out-of-pocket costs for medical items
or services before they receive care. This advance notice of proposed
rulemaking will solicit comments as well.
Within 180 days of the order, the secretary of Treasury shall
propose regulations to treat medical expenses that relate to certain types of
health arrangements as eligible medical expenses under section 213(d) of title
26, United States Code. The order states that this could potentially include
expenses related to direct primary care or health care sharing ministries.
Within 180 days of the order, a report that describes how the
government or private sector is hindering transparency in health care quality
and pricing for consumers will be delivered. The HHS secretary will work in
consultation with the attorney general and Federal Trade Commission to draft
Medical Spending Accounts
Within 120 days of the order, the secretary of Treasury will
issue guidance to expand consumers’ ability to choose high deductible health
plans with health savings accounts.
Within 180 days of the order, the secretary of treasury will
also issue guidance that increases the amount of funds in flexible spending
accounts that can carry over without penalty at the end of each year.
Quality of Care Transparency
Within 180 days of the order, secretaries of HHS, Defense and
Veterans Affairs will develop a roadmap to help align and improve data and
quality reporting measures across various programs, including Medicare,
Medicaid and the Marketplace.
The secretary of HHS, in consultation with the secretaries of
the Treasury, Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs, and the Director of the
Office of Personnel Management, shall increase access to de-identified claims
data from taxpayer-funded health care programs and group health plans within
180 days of the order. Increasing this access will aid in developing tools
designed to empower patients to make more informed decisions regarding their
Addressing Surprise Medical Billing
Within 180 days of the date of this order, the secretary
of HHS shall submit a report detailing any additional steps that are necessary
to implement the surprise medical billing principles that were laid out on May
9 to the president.
The executive order doesn’t set forth any proposed
regulations itself. We will continue to monitor any developments regarding the
order and provide updates as necessary.