Apr 3, 2019

Former HHS official calls on employers to crack down on health care costs

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

John Bardis, a former HHS assistant secretary under the Trump administration, said in a speech Tuesday that employers need to take a tougher stand on health care costs.

Why it matters: If employers take Bardis' advice, hospitals and drug companies are in big trouble.

Details: Speaking at the West Health Healthcare Costs Innovation Summit, Bardis said employers aren't maximizing their leverage over a health care industry that uses the fee-for-service system to make as much money as it can.

  • Instead of trying to constrain rising hospital and drug prices, employers have so far responded by increasing workers' deductibles.
  • "We can no longer afford to give a blank check to our health care delivery system, and shame on us if we do," he said.
  • While hospital systems often point to their low margins,"it's hard to hear when they're increasing these costs by inflating their expenditures," he said.
  • This is a change of tune for Bardis. He previously founded MedAssets, which helped hospitals maximize their payments from employers.

Flashback: Mounting frustration from employers and employees could put cost controls on the table faster than you might think.

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Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

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Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.