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HHS' new plans to boost health care competition

HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

HHS' new report about ways to improve “choice and competition” in the U.S. health care system is stuffed with plenty of standard conservative talking points, but a few interesting policies endorsed by independent experts are also tucked inside.

Details: Several of the Trump administration's recommendations mirror an April 2017 policy paper authored by health care policy experts Martin Gaynor, Farzad Mostashari and Paul Ginsburg.

It calls for:

  • Repealing state laws that require providers to ask for permission to build new facilities.
  • Allowing physician assistants and dental hygienists to do more without supervision by a doctor or dentist.
  • More site-neutral payments.

There’s no mention of unscrambling hospital mergers or regulating prices. But the administration could win legislative and public support for some of these policies.

Yes, but: This document also serves as a political vehicle to stump for conservative hobbyhorses — like short-term plans, health savings accounts, lifting the repeal on physician-owned hospitals, and potshots at the Affordable Care Act.

  • HHS also said the government should pursue “programs that encourage value … such as Medicare Advantage” — another indirect attempt to steer Medicare enrollees into private plans.

Go deeper: More ACA competition comes with a catch for consumers

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