WASHINGTON — The U.S. House was set to vote on a proposal aimed at making it easier for people to know their healthcare costs upfront on Monday evening, but the proposal was pulled from the calendar late Monday afternoon.
It’s unclear if or when the proposal will be scheduled again for a vote.
The bill focuses on the problem that many people don’t know the true cost of their healthcare services until after they have already received the care and they get stuck with the bill.
The bipartisan bill dubbed the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act would require hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers and diagnostic laboratories to publicly list the prices of their services.
“This legislation is a critical step forward in the fight to make sure that all Americans can afford their healthcare,” said Sophia Tripoli, Senior Director of Health Policy for Families USA. “This is about making sure families have financial security and that the squeeze they’re starting to feel between their family budget month after month, that they have more insight into being able to plan.”
The legislation is the result of House Republicans and Democrats working on the issue in several committees.
Earlier this year, lawmakers held a hearing to discuss the proposal and efforts by the federal government to address rising healthcare costs.
“It’s nearly impossible for people to plan ahead and budget for their healthcare costs,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the sponsor of the bill.
“The lack of transparency makes it difficult to compare across providers in advance of receiving care,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), a co-sponsor of the bill.
The measure also adds new rules for the so-called middlemen, known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs).
It requires PBMs to give employers detailed information on prescription drug spending.
While there is bipartisan support, the bill is still facing some opposition from the healthcare industry and from some Democrats.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) sent a letter to House leadership last week expressing concerns about new regulations.
“The AHA supports the suspension of the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) reductions for two years and appreciates your work to include this provision, however hospitals and health systems strongly oppose efforts to include permanent site-neutral payment cuts,” the AHA wrote. “In addition, the AHA has serious concerns about the added regulatory burdens on hospitals and health systems from the provisions to codify the Hospital Price Transparency Rule and to establish unique identifiers for off-campus hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs).”
Some House Democrats also say the proposal falls short and is missing elements to improve transparency with private Medicare plans and private ownership of healthcare facilities.
The bill needs a two-thirds majority in the House to pass.
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