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AFPI, TPPF: Healthcare Needs Price Transparency

May 26, 2021

America First Policy Institute and The Texas Public Policy Foundation released a joint report on the need for greater price transparency in the healthcare industry. The report, written by AFPI’s Heidi Overton, M.D. and TPPF’s David Balat, details the exploding cost of healthcare and recent efforts to require hospitals to disclose what they charge for non-emergency services before patients are treated.  

“Policies that remove uncertainty about the cost of medical care enhance the ability for families to plan their finances around future healthcare expenses and make comparisons across providers, which may lead to fewer people delaying necessary care,” the authors contend. “This could result in better outcomes regarding disease prevention and treatment as well as overall health nationwide. Hospital price transparency, if successfully implemented, is one policy solution with the potential to demonstrate this impact while also putting pressure on providers to create greater value for patients.” 

Health care costs, particularly at hospitals, have been steadily increasing since the last healthcare overhaul more than a decade ago. Studies show this incredible increase in costs has deadly consequences, with nearly 25% of Americans saying that they put off medical care for a serious condition due to unaffordable expenses. Rules designed to create more price transparency are incredibly popular nationwide, with nearly 60% of the country wanting Congress to make it their top priority.  

The report chronicles efforts by the Trump Administration to create a new rule requiring hospitals to disclose their prices. The rule survived a court challenge and became law at the beginning of 2021.  Unfortunately, hospitals all over the country are ignoring that policy, necessitating state governments to step in.  

In Texas, lawmakers recently passed legislation unanimously that would codify the federal rule into state law. The legislation imposes new fines, even going so far as to put the penalty of a hospital losing its medical license for repeated refusals to comply with price reporting guidelines. TPPF and AFPI urge the Biden administration to follow through on the Trump administration rules, making them stronger so that more Americans can make better educated and informed healthcare decisions.  

Overton and Balat conclude, “Hospital price transparency is one tool to empower patients and lower healthcare costs to help improve the country’s health. Considering the inconsistent implementation of the CMS Hospital Price Transparency Rule across the U.S., the Texas example demonstrates the active role states can have in ensuring policies they believe will positively impact people in their state are made permanent.”  

Read the full paper here:

https://files.texaspolicy.com/uploads/2021/05/26111514/Price-Transparency-White-Paper-V3.pdf