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Trump's new transparency rules for healthcare pricing get push back from industry

by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter | November 18, 2019

The rule would have hospitals post online costs for 300 common services, like X-rays and other tests.

Despite pushback from industry, some experts argue that transparency is the last possible solution to soaring prices — before turning to price controls — by the government.

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"There’s no other hope," Robert Berenson, a health policy expert from the Urban Institute, told CNBC, adding, "if this doesn’t work, you’ve got to go to price regulation. These prices are just crazy."

In January, the administration made hospitals post prices online, so that the “healthcare consumer,” aka patients, could shop around for the best deals. The list posted by institutions is called a “chargemaster”.

But there is a rub with such a list. “I don't think it's very helpful,” Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management, said at the time. “There are about 30,000 different items on a chargemaster file. As a patient, you don't know which ones you will use.”

The lists are part of a push by the Trump administration to reform healthcare. In a speech in July, 2018, Verma laid out its goals as follows:

“This administration is guided by four pillars; empowering patients, increasing competition, realigning incentives, and reducing barriers to value-driven care. As we transition to a system that delivers value to patients, we must start at the basic level of the interaction that a patient experiences when walking into a doctor’s office. We must cater to the needs of the patient, not providers.

“Our goal is to activate the most powerful force in our healthcare system for creating value: the patient.”

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