The Wall Street Journal recently reported, “The Trump administration has been working behind the scenes for months on a strategy to force greater price disclosure across much of the $3.5 trillion health-care industry.
The push relies on existing administrative tools, according to people familiar with the discussions, said The Wall Street Journal. “Those include Labor Department powers under the law that sets minimum standards for private-industry health plans and current hospital-payment rules under Medicare.”
According to the article, people familiar with the discussions also said:
- The administration is strongly interested in forcing insurers to publicize the negotiated rates they pay for services.
- The White House also wants doctors and hospitals to give patients their total price of care before they get services or treatment whether or not the healthcare provider is in the patient’s insurance network.
- The initiatives are expected to go beyond an earlier proposal to require hospitals, doctors and other medical providers to publicly disclose the secretly negotiated prices they charge insurance companies for services.
“President Trump supports the initiative, which could become a part of his health-care message in his 2020 re-election bid,” according to The Wall Street Journal article.
The interesting part about this story is the administration is looking to price transparency initiatives to help strengthen the President’s resume on healthcare during his 2020 bid for re-election.
And I suspect that other Republican Congressman and Senators are going to use the same strategy as well for the same reasons.
Given that healthcare remains a key issue for voters across the political spectrum, messaging that price transparency will help use market forces to bring costs down could provide tangible proof the administration is taking on “special interests” and “doing something” for middle-class voters.
Healthcare was listed as the No. 2 priority for the President, sandwiched right between the economy at No. 1 and terrorism at No. 3, according to a Pew Research Center report.
If price transparency initiatives are messaged properly by Republicans, they could also help erase the edge that Democrats have typically held over Republicans on the issue of healthcare — particularly with swing voters — who will be crucial to races up and down the ballot in 2020. While you typically don’t expect much to happen during an election year, I would expect just about anything could happen related to increasing price transparency between now and November 2019.