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Price Transparency Executive Order Sparks Fear of 'Race to the Bottom'

The last week in June set in motion some potentially good news for patients, with President Trump’s June 24 executive order on price transparency and forward movement in Congress on surprise billing legislation, but hospitals are uneasy. With everyone’s cards on the table, hospital prices could be driven way down by insurers, and consumers still may not get accurate upfront information about their share of the cost because services evolve during hospital visits, attorneys say.

In a nutshell, the Executive Order on Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First requires HHS to issue regulations that compel providers and payers to make public the rates they negotiate for health care services so patients can do comparison shopping.

“We are fundamentally changing the nature of the health care marketplace,” President Trump said at a ceremony to sign the executive order. “For too long, it’s been too hard for Americans to know the real price of health care services. As a result, patients face significant obstacles shopping for health care. It’s driving up health care costs for everyone. This is bigger than anything we have done in any particular realm. We will empower patients with information they need to search for the lowest cost and highest quality care.”

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