The Trump administration is sounding out an idea to require that hospitals, doctors and other medical providers publicly disclose the “secretly-negotiated” prices they charge insurance companies for services, a move that proponents say would expose for the first time the actual cost of care. [Some are skeptical that anyone in the health sector knows the actual cost of care.] Hospitals and insurers negotiate pricing contracts which are generally bound by confidentiality. HHS is seeking public comment on whether patients have a right to see the discounted prices in advance of obtaining care. 

The Trump administration wants to know what challenges employer and group health plans face in maintaining grandfathered status for Affordable Care Act plans.

The Treasury and Labor departments and HHS issued the request for informationlate Thursday. The request comes as the number of grandfathered plans fall.

The agencies want to understand “whether there are opportunities for the departments to assist such plans and issuers,” the rule said. 

Galen Institute president Grace-Marie Turner testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Feb. 13 about preserving consumer protections in health insurance while giving consumers more choices of affordable coverage.  She focused on:

  • The Trump administration’s Section 1332 guidance which gives states new authority to help their individual and small group markets heal from the damage the ACA has done. Early waivers have seen premium costs reduced by 30% or more and enrollment in health coverage increase.
  • The importance of the administration’s new rule allowing people to purchase temporary health insurance (so called Short-Term Limited Duration Plans) to help them bridge gaps between coverage, either because they are between jobs, starting new businesses, or retiring early
  • The strong commitment on both sides of the political aisle to pre-existing condition protections
  • And the value of private agents and brokers in doing outreach for exchange enrollment—enrolling 40% of policyholders vs 1% for the ACA-created Navigators

The Trump administration is proposing steps aimed at improving patients’ access to their own health data, bolstering efforts to bring information including insurance claims, hospital and doctor records to digital devices such as smartphones.

Federal health regulators unveiled two major proposed regulations closely watched by health and technology companies, amid a growing flood of health data that has become an ever-more-valuable asset. The draft rules touch on a broad array of issues, including technology standards that are supposed to help unlock digital data stored in the electronic health records used by hospitals and doctors to track patients’ care.

The White House’s plan to lower federal drug payments and stop incentivizing doctors to use the most expensive drugs is a long-overdue, commonsense move to control our nation’s health care costs. And its implementation should be a top priority.

Spending for health care is unsustainable, representing about 17 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. In fact, it’s outpacing GDP growth by 1 percent annually.

The White House released a report showing that the economic benefits of recent administration and congressional actions on health coverage will total $450 billion over ten years. The report analyzes the economic effects of the administration’s rules on association health plans, short term limited duration plans, and repeal of the mandate. This is the first comprehensive analysis of these important regulatory changes. It finds that, contrary to those who argue that these actions would harm consumers, Americans will benefit significantly from these consumer-friendly policies.

Two years ago this month, President Trump promised the American people that he would stop drug companies from “getting away with murder” with their annual ritual of price increases. Since then, his historic actions on drug pricing have produced historic results. One official measure of drug price inflation was actually negative in 2018, for the first time in almost 50 years.

Medicare’s costs for outpatient prescription drugs are rising quickly, and there is a growing sense that part of the problem lies in the incentives structure that Medicare Part D creates. Last week, the Trump Administration announced plans for a new, voluntary Part D payment model intended to lower Medicare expenditures on prescription drugs. The model’s basic idea is to increase plans’ liability for the part of the program where costs are rising the most, changing their incentives. These changes are a move in the right direction, but any benefits will likely be limited. More sweeping changes to the program’s structure, such as what AAF’s Team Health has proposed in the past, are needed to contain costs.

Report Highlights:

  • Regional associations launched 71 percent of new AHPs
  • Vast majority of new regional associations are chamber of commerce-based
  • 4 out of 5 new AHPs are insured through a third-party insurance company as opposed to self-funded
  • Maximum savings claims average higher for self-funded plans than fully-insured plans, though both are in double digits
  • Half of new AHPs offer medical savings account options such as a HSA
  • Multi-state professional association health plans in planning but taking longer to reach market
  • Half of new AHPs are limited to companies of 2-50 employees
  • 43 percent of new AHPs are available to sole proprietors and the self-employed
  • Benefit information trends toward comprehensive health coverage that includes items such as mental health benefits and prescription drug coverage alongside mandated benefits such as maternity

The Trump administration is rolling out the policy specifics for a central promise in its plan to lower drug prices—taking on the system’s middlemen. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has long had his eye on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and the rebates that are their bread and butter. The proposal HHS unveiled yesterday would essentially ban those rebates in Medicare and Medicaid, forcing PBMs to collect a flat fee for their work.