JASPER, IN – Today, U.S. Senator Mike Braun applauds President Trump’s decision to force hospitals and insurance companies to disclose their secret negotiated rates and publicize their costs.

The executive action mirrors a bill from Senator Braun called S.913, the True Price Act, which would require health insurers to disclose negotiated rates—including any cost-sharing obligations for consumers—for health care services covered under their health plans to increase transparency and competition, putting the decision-making power into the hands of the American consumer.

Braun recently penned an op-ed in The Hill praising President Trump for bringing transparency to the U.S. healthcare market and his decision for hospitals to disclose publicly negotiated prices.  Additionally, this week at an event hosted by Axios, Braun said Republicans will be on the wrong side of history with Medicare-for-All if we can’t convince the industry to reform itself.

“Through a lack of transparency and competition, the healthcare industry has refused to participate in market-driven practices, and President Trump’s decisive action today will finally force hospitals and insurance companies to disclose their secret negotiated rates,” said U.S. Senator Mike Braun.  “It’s time for the healthcare industry to get their act together, otherwise they have one customer - the federal government - and every American will be stuck with this shoddy healthcare plan called Medicare-for-All.” 
 

BACKGROUND

Trump Administration releases transparency rule in hospital pricing.  “The Trump administration on Friday released a far-reaching plan that would for the first time force hospitals and insurers to disclose their secret negotiated rates.  Administration officials said the final rule will compel hospitals in 2021 to publicize the rates they negotiate with individual insurers for all services, including drugs, supplies, facility fees and care by doctors who work for the facility.  The administration will propose extending the disclosure requirement to the $670 billion health-insurance industry. Insurance companies and group health plans that cover employees would have to disclose negotiated rates, as well as previously paid rates for out-of-network treatment, in file formats that are computer-searchable, officials said.  The insurers, including Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp. , would have to provide a transparency tool to give cost information to consumers in advance, senior administration officials said.  The requirements are more far-reaching than many industry leaders had expected and could upend commercial health-care markets, which are rife with complex systems of hidden charges and secret discounts. The price-disclosure initiative has become a cornerstone of the president’s 2020 re-election health strategy, despite threats of legal action from industry.”  (The Wall Street Journal, 11/15/19)

Health care needs transparency, and President Trump is making progress.  “My prime focus for my first six months in Washington has been to bring transparency to our opaque and misaligned U.S. health care market. President Donald Trump recently invited me to the White House to participate in the signing of his executive order that will push the health care industry to be much more transparent when it comes to actual pricing and quality, putting Americans in the driver’s seat and significantly lowering the cost of health care.  Specifically, President Trump’s executive order requires hospitals to disclose publicly negotiated prices that reflect what people actually pay for services and requires insurers to provide hard figures on any out-of-pocket spending patients will be on the hook for before they receive care. This will help health care consumers navigate the health care system the way they do in other markets.  For too long, the big health care industry has been the dictionary definition of a cartel: “a combination of independent commercial or industrial enterprises designed to limit competition or fix prices.” I’ve spent my life in the business world, and there’s no other industry I know of where you can buy a good or service and have no idea what it costs.”  (The Hill, 07/01/19)

Axios Healthcare 2020 discussion with Senator Mike Braun.  Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) underscored his background in the private sector and discussed the role of CEO in making health care costs manageable for employees.  On covering workers: ‘I believe nobody should go broke because they get sick or have a bad accident.’  On engaging with nontraditional Republican issues like prescription drug prices and climate: ‘I think Conservatives and Republicans are foot-draggers when it comes to getting engaged in issues ... It’s in our DNA.’  On whether Republicans are on the wrong side of history with Medicare-for-All: ‘They will be if we can’t convince the industry to reform itself … We need to preserve the best of what we have.’” (Axios, 11/14/19)

Senator Braun's True Price Act Empowers Consumers with Information on Health Care Prices. The complex, opaque nature of health care pricing makes it difficult for consumers to anticipate, measure, and compare health care costs. Hospitals have “charge master” prices—which act as inflated retail prices billable to a patient or insurance provider.  But insurers usually negotiate steep discounts to these inflated prices that are not seen by consumers. More pricing transparency would address this market failure, increase competition, and give more decision-making power to consumers. This is why I recently introduced legislation (S.913) to require health insurers to disclose negotiated rates—including any cost-sharing obligations for consumers—for health care services covered under their health plans. It’s difficult for insured consumers to shop for health care services if they don’t know the actual prices—and insurers have the unique ability to provide this information to consumers. 

Braun introduces True Price Act, which today's executive action reflects. On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Mike Braun introduced the True Price Act, which requires health plans and health insurance companies to disclose the full cost of healthcare they receive. Senator Braun’s legislation compliments President Trump’s efforts to possibly require providers to disclose secret prices of healthcare, which would put more decision-making power into the hands of patients and could lower the cost of healthcare.  This is Senator Braun’s fourth bill aimed at lowering healthcare costs, which follows the Drug Price Transparency (DPT) Act, the Accelerated Drug Approval for Prescription Therapies (ADAPT) Act and the Efficiency and Transparency in Petitions Act. (The Times, 3/29/2019)

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