In a year already marked by a wide variety of congressional health care legislation, Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Thursday released the details of a plan they hope will help bring down health costs and eliminate surprise medical bills for patients. Alexander and Murray are the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
“These are common-sense steps we can take, and every single one of them has the objective of reducing the health care costs that you pay for out of your own pocket,” Alexander said in a statement. “We hope to move it through the health committee in June, put it on the Senate floor in July and make it law.”
States. They’re just as perplexed as the rest of us over the ever-rising cost of health care premiums.
Now some states — including Montana, North Carolina and Oregon — are moving to control costs of state employee health plans. Their strategy: Use Medicare reimbursement rates to recalibrate how they pay hospitals. If the gamble pays off, more private-sector employers could start doing the same thing.
“Government workers will get it first, then everyone else will see the savings and demand it,” says Glenn Melnick, a hospital finance expert and professor at the University of Southern California. “This is the camel’s nose. It will just grow and grow.”
In her first speech as speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi made it clear that she knows that health care is key to why voters sent Democrats to Congress.
“In the past two years the American people have spoken,” Pelosi told members of Congress and their families who were gathered Thursday in the House chamber for the opening day of the session.
“Tens of thousands of public events were held, hundreds of thousands of people turned out, millions of calls were made, countless families, even sick little children — our little lobbyists, our little lobbyists — bravely came forward to tell their stories and they made a big difference,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat.
According to a new NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll, about one in five people said they have delayed or canceled some kind of health care service, such as a doctor’s appointment or medical procedure, because of cost in the preceding three months. The proportion of people who said cost had deterred them from getting care varied by age, with a third of people under 35 saying it had been a problem compared with only 8% of people 65 and older. The cost of prescriptions also appeared to be a bigger concern for younger people, with 38% of those under 35 saying they had difficulty paying for their medicine. Only 9% of people 65 and older said they had the same problem.
The Trump administration said late Monday that it will require drugmakers to reveal the list prices of their medicines in television ads. The move sets the stage for months or possibly years of battle with the powerful industry.
The proposed rule would require pharmaceutical companies to include the price in a TV ad for any drug that costs more than $35 a month. The price should be listed at the end of the advertisement in “a legible manner,” the rule states, and should be presented against a contrasting background in a way that is easy to read.