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‘Will increase prices’: Business groups sue Biden admin over rule making health costs visible

Thomas Catenacci, DCNF

The Chamber of Commerce and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) filed separate complaints over federal rules creating health care cost transparency.

The business groups alleged that the rules introduced by the Trump administration and maintained by President Joe Biden would ultimately increase costs for American consumers, according to the lawsuits filed against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week. Both the Chamber and PCMA said they supported price transparency and portions of the rules that provided useful information to consumers.

“People find it helpful to compare outcomes and prices when choosing health care services, which is why many companies have developed tools and resources to make it easier for consumers to figure out the costs associated with different services and items,” Chamber Litigation Center senior vice president Daryl Joseffer told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.

“But the federal government wants to force self-insured employers and insurance companies to obtain, compile, and publish reams of unnecessary information that not only will overwhelm and confuse consumers but also will increase prices and — according to the government’s own estimates — impose over $3.5 billion in costs in the first year alone,” he continued.

In July, Biden signed an executive order, which affirmed his support for “existing hospital price transparency rules.”

The rules introduced by former President Donald Trump require health care providers and insurance plans to disclose cost-sharing information to consumers on the internet. Health providers would also need to publicly share drug pricing information with consumers.

“Under the final rules, plans and issuers are required to make this information available on an internet website and, if requested, in paper form, thereby allowing a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee (or his or her authorized representative) to obtain an estimate and understanding of the individual’s out-of-pocket expenses and effectively shop for items and services,” the rule states.

However, the Chamber and PCMA alleged the rules included several requirements that were counterproductive and would overwhelm consumers.

“We are challenging the portions of the rule that do not meet those important objectives and will not produce information that patients and physicians can use,” the PCMA said in a statement.

“The Trump administration based its rule on a statute that allows the (HHS) to require disclosure of information to help plan enrollees to easily understand their health plan’s cost-sharing,” the group added. “The statute did not contemplate disclosure of proprietary pricing.”

The rules are set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

HHS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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