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Hospitals dodge price transparency bullet with delayed Trump decision

A health cross with money at its base.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration is promising to issue a "forthcoming final rule" related to its proposal requiring hospitals to post all of their privately negotiated prices with insurance companies. It delayed a decision in a final regulation released Friday.

Between the lines: Even if the Trump administration follows through and issues a price transparency rule, the industry almost certainly will sue to block it — meaning this policy is years away from seeing the light of day.

  • Hospitals and insurers flooded the government with comments, arguing they should not have to publish their negotiated rates because it'd be too complex
  • These contracts reflect the wild variation of prices and the market power of a given entity, and they will be guarded at all costs.

That's not all: The final regulation took a few other shots at hospitals, but those policies are on similarly tenuous legal ground.

  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services still plans to slash payments next year for doctor visits performed at hospital-owned outpatient offices, even though a federal judge ruled the policy unlawful.
  • CMS also said it still will make major cuts to hospital payments for drugs, issued through the 340B program, even though those reductions are also being ruled unlawful.

The bottom line: The health care industry is winning almost every major policy battle in the Trump administration.

Go deeper: Hospitals lobbying to change Medicare's pay formulas