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Industry doesn't like Trump's transparency push

Trump signs health care executive order
President Trump signs yesterday's executive order. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Industry groups came out with guns blazing yesterday against President Trump's executive order on price transparency for hospitals. And plenty of experts are skeptical that it will bring prices down.

What's next: Industry will have ample opportunity to kill or weaken the new rules while the administration fills in the details through the regulatory process.

Between the lines: Health care economists and hospitals are on the same side — although perhaps for different reasons.

  • "I would expect the health care industry to oppose any government mandate to disclose what it considers to be confidential business information," the Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt said.
  • "While transparency might not lead directly to lower prices, it could spur political action to deal with them, and that’s something the industry certainly wants to avoid," Levitt added.

What they're saying: If the price-disclosure requirements "take the wrong course...it may undercut the way insurers pay for hospital services resulting in higher spending," Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, said in a statement.

  • "Competition experts...agree that disclosing privately negotiated rates will reduce incentives to offer lower rates, creating a floor – not a ceiling – for the prices that hospitals would be willing to accept," said Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Both groups cited the Federal Trade Commission, which wrote in a 2015 blog post that it's "especially concerned when information disclosures allow competitors to figure out what their rivals are charging, which dampens each competitor’s incentive to offer a low price, or increases the likelihood that they can coordinate on higher prices."