Biden signals he will enforce Trump rule requiring hospitals to post their prices, including rates negotiated with insurers

President Biden signaled Friday that he will enforce the Jan. 1 Trump administration rule that makes hospitals post the prices they charge cash-paying customers and the rates they negotiate with insurers, “figures that were largely obscured from public scrutiny,” reports Alexandra Ellerbeck of The Washington Post.

In an executive order, Biden told his health secretary to “support existing price transparency initiatives for hospitals” and any future requirements for transparency. “The Department of Health and Human Services began in April to send letters to hospitals that weren’t complying with the rule and indicated it plans to audit a sample of hospitals. . . . Recent studies have found that many hospitals aren’t complying with the rule.”
“Until now, it was unclear exactly how the Biden administration would approach the Trump-era rules, even as advocates and some lawmakers urged stronger enforcement amid signs of widespread noncompliance,” Ellerbeck writes. The order “signaled that the new administration views the transparency rules as valuable, even if they ultimately don’t pack as much of a punch as former president Donald Trump had claimed.”

Ellerbeck explains: “Many Americans are insulated from the direct cost of treatment because their insurance picks up the tab, and even those patients who pay directly may have a hard time wading through hundreds of pages of complex pricing documents. Even when hospitals do post their prices, many Americans don’t know to look for them. Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans say they are aware that hospitals are required to post their prices, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll.”

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