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House unveils transparency bill

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The House health transparency package was formally introduced on Friday, with a Democratic co-sponsor, Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone.

Why it matters: With Pallone's co-sponsorship, it's now a bipartisan bill and the first big health package of this Congress that could get House floor time.

Between the lines: House Democrats, who had been evaluating the bill this week, are now split.

  • Ways and Means ranking member Richard Neal is not on board, amid concerns about reporting requirements for private equity ownership of providers being left out.
  • A spokesperson for Education and the Workforce ranking member Bobby Scott said he is also not signed on, but hopes to continue negotiating for his support.

Zoom in: The legislation is pretty similar to the draft text that was circulated by House Republicans earlier this week, which includes measures codifying Trump-era hospital price transparency rules, a new PBM reporting requirement and a ban on PBM spread pricing in Medicaid.

  • It also includes relatively modest site-neutral hospital measures, as well as extensions of funding for community health centers and delaying DSH cuts.
  • Pallone did win some changes to strengthen the transparency requirements to help get his support. For example, the HHS secretary now has authority to increase the civil monetary penalty amount for violators, according to an Energy and Commerce Democratic spokesperson.

What they're saying:

  • "It will lower costs by giving patients the health care price information they need to make the decisions that are best for them and their families," said E&C Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
  • "I'm grateful to my colleagues for partnering with me to strengthen the bill," Pallone said in a statement. "In addition to bringing much-needed transparency to lower health care costs for Americans, the bill also increases funding for important health care programs including Community Health Centers and Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education."

What we're watching: Will the bill come to the floor? Two lobbyists said it could come the week of Sept. 18, but that is not certain, and with appropriations chaos going on at the same time, a lot can change.

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