KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Transparency Debate: Leftover Of Health Overhaul

Some lawmakers, from both parties, have proposed more aggressive legislation to unveil the prices of health care services, arguing that the recently passed health overhaul doesn't go far enough on this topic, Politico reports. "Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wis.), a physician, has introduced a bill that would require all health care providers - from hospitals to insurance companies - to disclose publicly all prices on a continual basis." Several Republican members of key House subcommittee have also introduced similar, but narrower, legislation, but it's unclear whether any proposal will move forward this year. "The bill's backers say that consumer prices would be lower if companies had to disclose them publicly" (Haberkorn, 5/11).

An analysis by The Fiscal Times says "[p]ublishing the cost and quality data has had a far-reaching impact on [Wisconsin, which is considered a front-runner in health care transparency], whose health care system is now considered among the best in the country. It gave hospitals with low quality ratings objective feedback for improving their performance. And the rankings motivated high cost hospitals to begin looking for ways to eliminate expensive but medically questionable procedures that didn't improve outcomes." The analysis concludes, the new transparency bills being considered in the house "don't go far enough because they focus exclusively on price, and not on the quality side of the ledger" (Goozner, 5/10).

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