President Trump signed an executive order on June 25, 2019, titled “Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First,” which directs federal agencies to issue regulations to improve the transparency of healthcare prices to create a more competitive marketplace and allow consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. 

More specifically, the executive order:

  • Directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary to issue regulations within 60 days that would require hospitals to publicly post standard charge information, including information based on negotiated rates, in an easy-to-understand format.

  • Requires the secretaries of HHS, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Labor to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking within 90 days seeking comment on proposals to require healthcare providers, insurers and self-insured group plans to provide consumer access to information about expected out-of-pocket costs before they receive healthcare services.

  • Requires HHS, in consultation with the U.S. attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission, to issue a report within 180 days on ways the federal government or private sector impede healthcare price and quality transparency for patients, with recommended solutions.

  • Directs HHS, within 180 days and in consultation with other federal departments and agencies, to increase access to de-identified claims data from taxpayer-funded healthcare programs and group health plans for researchers, innovators, providers and entrepreneurs to facilitate the development of tools that empower patients to be better informed purchasers of care.

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  • Requires the Treasury, within 180 days, to propose regulations to treat expenses related to certain types of arrangements, potentially including direct primary care and healthcare sharing ministries, as eligible medical expenses for health savings accounts, and to increase the amount of funds in flexible spending accounts that can carry over at the end of the year without penalty.

  • Directs HHS to submit a report to the president within 180 days on additional administrative steps that can be taken to address the issue of surprise medical bills.

More reports and proposals are expected to be released over the coming months.

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