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

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.