Trump Expected to Advance Healthcare Transparency

Christopher Cheney, January 26, 2017

"But before national regulation comes out, there needs to be a lot of conversation with providers in states where transparency is working well to see on a national level how we can have similar requirements, with some flexibility, too."

In addition to regulation, Floria says the federal government could take "carrot or stick" approaches to cajole or prod states to adopt healthcare transparency laws.

"One way the federal government could require states to pass transparency laws is to say they will not provide Medicaid funding if states do not meet the minimum requirements of price transparency. Another way to do it would be to increase Medicaid funding to states that pass transparency laws—that would be better," she says.

Matthew Muhart, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Memorial Healthcare, says he is resigned to the inevitability of new regulations mandating healthcare transparency but asserts market forces can and should be the primary drivers of change.

"There will be regulatory approaches—regardless of whether they are good, bad or indifferent," he says. "The government realizes that the current methodology in terms of data reporting is not perfect. They will continue to try to improve that."

"The government also needs to listen to the industry. For those of us who have been making attempts at establishing transparency, the government needs to look at those attempts and incorporate them into whatever the regulatory schema will be in the future," Muhart says.

The thrusting of patients into a more active and financially committed role in their healthcare is unleashing market forces that are on the verge of making transparency an unavoidable feature of the way health systems, hospitals, and physician practices function, he says.

"I strongly believe that market forces are the greatest lever to moving transparency to a national scale. If, in fact, we are in an environment where more and more of the healthcare spend is not in the form of premium, per se, but more in the form of out-of-pocket spending at a transactional level, market forces will drive transparency across the country more than anything."

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