HEALTHCARE/HHS/TRUMP EXECUTIVE ORDERS: “My Administration seeks to enhance the ability of patients to choose the healthcare that is best for them.  To make fully informed decisions about their healthcare, patients must know the price and quality of a good or service in advance.  With the predominant role that third-party payers and Government programs play in the American healthcare system, however, patients often lack both access to useful price and quality information and the incentives to find low-cost, high-quality care.  Opaque pricing structures may benefit powerful special interest groups, such as large hospital systems and insurance companies, but they generally leave patients and taxpayers worse off than would a more transparent system.

Pursuant to Executive Order 13813 of October 12, 2017 (Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States), my Administration issued a report entitled ‘Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition.’  The report recommends developing price and quality transparency initiatives to ensure that healthcare patients can make well-informed decisions about their care.  In particular, the report describes the characteristics of the most effective price transparency efforts:  they distinguish between the charges that providers bill and the rates negotiated between payers and providers; they give patients proper incentives to seek information about the price of healthcare services; and they provide useful price comparisons for ‘shoppable’ services (common services offered by multiple providers through the market, which patients can research and compare before making informed choices based on price and quality).

Shoppable services make up a significant share of the healthcare market, which means that increasing transparency among these services will have a broad effect on increasing competition in the healthcare system as a whole…

Improving transparency in healthcare will also further protect patients from harmful practices such as surprise billing, which occurs when patients receive unexpected bills at highly inflated prices from out-of-network providers they had no opportunity to select in advance.  On May 9, 2019, I announced principles to guide efforts to address surprise billing.  The principles outline how patients scheduling appointments to receive facility-based care should have access to pricing information related to the providers and services they may need, and the out-of-pocket costs they may incur.  Having access to this type of information in advance of care can help patients avoid excessive charges.

Making meaningful price and quality information more broadly available to more Americans will protect patients and increase competition, innovation, and value in the healthcare system…

It is the policy of the Federal Government to ensure that patients are engaged with their healthcare decisions and have the information requisite for choosing the healthcare they want and need.  The Federal Government aims to eliminate unnecessary barriers to price and quality transparency; to increase the availability of meaningful price and quality information for patients; to enhance patients’ control over their own healthcare resources, including through tax-preferred medical accounts; and to protect patients from surprise medical bills…

Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall propose a regulation, consistent with applicable law, to require hospitals to publicly post standard charge information, including charges and information based on negotiated rates and for common or shoppable items and services, in an easy-to-understand, consumer-friendly, and machine-readable format using consensus-based data standards that will meaningfully inform patients’ decision making and allow patients to compare prices across hospitals.  The regulation should require the posting of standard charge information for services, supplies, or fees billed by the hospital or provided by employees of the hospital.  The regulation should also require hospitals to regularly update the posted information and establish a monitoring mechanism for the Secretary to ensure compliance with the posting requirement, as needed.”

-Donald Trump, “Executive Order on Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First,” whitehouse.gov, June 24, 2019

[Note: Read the full Executive Order signed by Donald Trump.]