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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association are suing the federal government to halt a regulation that would force health insurers and employers to reveal the prices of services and drugs.

Why it matters: The health care industry claims it is in favor of price transparency, but in reality, the industry has fought attempts to unlock the black box of prices.

Where it stands: The regulation in question, finalized by the Trump administration last November, requires plans and companies that are self-insured to make prices and out-of-pocket costs available for 500 items by Jan. 1, 2023.

  • That information has to be available for all health care services and products by Jan. 1, 2024.

This rule is similar to a separate rule by the Trump administration that required hospitals to post their negotiated prices.

What they're saying: The Chamber and PCMA, which lobbies on behalf of pharmacy benefit managers, argue the rule is illegal for two main reasons:

  • The proposed rule never mentioned "historical net prices" as a required item to disclose, but the final rule did. The groups argue this violated procedural law, and they say this data has "legal protections against disclosure as proprietary business information and trade secrets."
  • The regulation also requires pricing data to be posted in "machine-readable files," but the groups say that goes against the federal law that pricing data be displayed in "plain language."

Between the lines: Requiring disclosure of net drug prices is especially important, because net drug prices are highly guarded secrets.

  • For as much as pharmaceutical companies and PBMs like to blame each other over high drug prices, they are on the same page here and do not want net prices publicized. (PhRMA and the Chamber of Commerce are in lockstep on almost all issues.)

The bottom line: Health care companies only want transparency that doesn't disrupt their businesses.

  • The Chamber has lamented that "health care pricing is a complete mystery," and PCMA advocates for "the right transparency."

Go deeper

This is what a profit margin squeeze looks like

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Two inflation indexes out this week, taken together, show how companies’ margins are getting squeezed.

Why it matters: Corporate earnings growth, while still historically high, is receding from record second-quarter levels. Margins will be a huge focus during Q3 earnings calls this month.

Oct 15, 2021 - Health

Appeals court declines to block Maine vaccine mandate

A health worker prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination. Photo: Camilo Freedman/APhotografia/Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday denied an emergency request to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from going into effect in Maine, the Associated Press reports.

Driving the news: The mandate, which Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced in August, requires health care workers in Maine to get vaccinated by Oct. 29 or face losing their jobs.

54 seconds ago - Politics & Policy

House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House of Representatives voted 229-202 on Thursday to hold former Trump strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The Justice Department will now consider bringing criminal charges against Bannon, marking a significant escalation in the Jan. 6 committee's efforts to enforce subpoenas against Trump allies who refuse to cooperate.