Washington, D.C. — Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) and Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) yesterday filed a regulatory comment expressing serious concerns to the Biden administration about a new rule proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services which would rollback price transparency laws, prioritize the hospital and insurance industry over patients, and make it harder than ever for patients to see actual healthcare prices.

The proposed draft regulations, CMS-2023-0120-0002, are purportedly about price transparency but will instead have the effect of price obscurity. The proposed regulations would amend an original rule, removing the word “enforcement” (of hospital compliance) and replacing it with “assessment.” This word change suggests that enforcement will be a sham, and instead, the focus will simply be on “assessing” or measuring non-compliance. 

The proposed regulations would also allow for too much abuse of price transparency under the guise of price “estimates,” continuing the use of the Price Estimator Tool, which is a significant loophole allowing hospitals only to give estimates in place of real prices. Similarly, the rule includes provisions that will make it too difficult for many consumers to gain meaningful benefits from price information. 

Hadley Heath Manning, vice president for policy at Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice, said: 

“Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice will fight continually to ensure that the intention of price transparency efforts — to change the patient experience by providing real, actionable price transparency — is not lost in the final execution of the price transparency policy-making process. 

“Unfortunately, the most recent round of draft regulations include several red flags that suggest that regulators are more interested in accommodating hospitals than protecting patients.

The healthcare industry is a proverbial Goliath; they have countless lobbyists working to influence how price transparency rules are written and enforced (or, as has been the case too often – not enforced). We are proud to act as David in this situation, to serve as a watchdog for patient interests, and to advocate for better rules.”

The proposed rules fall short of full, system-wide price transparency, which is why IWF and IWV will continue to urge regulators to strengthen the draft rules and policymakers to get the implementation of price transparency requirements right. 

Read the filed comment here or here.

Review IWV’s Real vs. Fake Price Transparency Checklist

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