June 27, 2019

President Trump Issues Executive Order on Health Care Transparency

President Donald J. Trump hosted Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma and many elected officials June 24 to announce a new executive order intending to empower patients by making health care more transparent.

The executive order has five main pillars:

  1. Hospital Negotiated Prices – Directs the secretary of HHS to issue regulations within 60 days that would require hospitals to publicly post standard charge information, including information based on negotiated rates, in an easy-to-understand format.
  2. Insurance Out-of-Pocket Costs – Requires the secretaries of HHS, Treasury and Labor to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking within 90 days seeking comment on proposals to require health care providers, insurers and self-insured group plans to provide consumer access to information about expected out-of-pocket costs before they receive health care services.
  3. Quality Roadmap – Direct HHS, Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop a comprehensive quality roadmap for health care to ensure metrics to drive quality improvement.
  4. Federal Health Data – Directs the secretary of HHS, within 180 days and in consultation with other federal departments and agencies — including the DOD, VA and the Office of Personnel Management — to increase access to de-identified claims data from taxpayer-funded health care programs and group health plans for researchers, innovators, providers and entrepreneurs to facilitate the development of tools that empower patients to be better informed purchasers of care.
  5. Health Savings Account (HSA) Expansion – Requires the secretary of the Treasury, within 180 days, to propose regulations to treat expenses related to certain types of arrangements, potentially including direct primary care and health care sharing ministries, as eligible medical expenses for HSAs and to increase the amount of funds in flexible spending accounts that can carry over at the end of the year without penalty.

President Trump also ordered the following:

  • Requiring the secretary of HHS, in consultation with the attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission, to issue a report with recommended solutions within 180 days on ways the federal government or private sector impede health care price and quality transparency for patients.
  • Directing the secretary of HHS to submit a report to the president within 180 days on additional administrative steps that can be taken to address the issue of surprise medical bills

The executive order is expected to face a court challenge. The American College of Radiology will continue to monitor its progress.