Ernst Works to Increase Transparency, Lower Health Care Costs for Iowans

The Iowa senator helped introduce a bill that would codify the Trump Administration’s hospital and insurance price transparency rules.

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is continuing her work to empower patients and lower health care costs for Iowans. Ernst, along with Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) and fellow Iowan Chuck Grassley (R-IA), introduced The Healthcare PRICE Transparency Act, a bill that would codify the Trump Administration’s two health care price transparency rules that require hospitals and insurers to reveal their low, discounted cash prices and negotiated rates to consumers before they receive medical care.

“Every year on my 99 County Tour, I hear from folks who are concerned about the high costs of health care. Iowans should be able to access information about the costs associated with their health care in advance, so that they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “By improving transparency we can increase competition, empower patients, and ultimately lower health care costs. I’m glad to join my colleagues in support of this bill which is a critical step toward achieving these important goals.”

“As a Main Street Entrepreneur who provided quality healthcare to my employees, this legislation will give Americans the chance to see the true costs of their healthcare visits, which will increase competition and lower healthcare costs,” said Senator Mike Braun.  “President Trump has been the leader on healthcare reform and this legislation takes his executive orders and makes it the law of the land, which is a win for all Americans.” 

“An extra dose of transparency will bring more accountability and competition to the health care industry. It’s time for Americans to have more financial information available to them when going to the hospital and working with their insurance companies. I applaud President Trump’s continued commitment to bring more sunlight to the health care industry,” said Senator Chuck Grassley. 

Background:
This legislation would codify the two health care price transparency rules that came out of President Donald Trump’s Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare Executive Order – which requires hospitals and insurers to reveal their low, discounted cash prices and negotiated rates to consumers before they receive medical care. Pursuant to the Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare Executive Order, the Administration issued two rules to increase price transparency, empower patients, and increase competition among all hospitals and insurers.

Codifying the Administration’s Health Care Price Transparency Rules Would:

  • Ensure that the rules are implemented to the benefit of consumers.
  • Empower Americans to shop for healthcare and coverage, creating a competitive, functional market.
  • Reduce the cost of care and coverage, saving individuals and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars and creating a vital economic stimulus.

The Health Care PRICE Transparency Act Would Require Hospitals to:

  • Provide patients with clear, accessible information about their "standard charges" for the items and services they provide, including through the use of standardized data elements, making it easier to shop and compare across hospitals, as well as mitigating surprises.
  • Make public all hospital standard charges (including the gross charges, negotiated rates and charges, the amount the hospital is willing to accept in cash from a patient) for all items and services on the Internet in a single data file that can be read by other computer systems (i.e., machine readable format).
  • Make public negotiated rates and charges, cash prices, etc. in a manner that is consumer-friendly and up-to-date.

The Health Care PRICE Transparency Act Would Require Insurers to:

  • Give consumers real-time, personalized access to cost-sharing information—including an estimate of their cost-sharing liability for all covered healthcare items and services. 
  • Publish this information online and available to all of their beneficiaries, and in paper form, at the beneficiaries’ request – empowering consumers to shop and compare costs between specific providers before receiving care.
  • Disclose on a public website their negotiated rates for in-network providers and allowed amounts paid for out-of-network providers.

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