Politics

Trump HHS Roles Out Plan For ‘Value-Based’ Health Care

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar rolled out a proposal for a value-based health care system, arguing for one that is more cost-effective and transparent than the current market for health care in the U.S.

“We at HHS see stakeholders, including our nation’s hospitals, as part of the solution to our country’s many healthcare challenges. We recognize that it’s not just government that wants better healthcare for all Americans. Our partners in the private sector, all of you, want the same,” Azar said Monday in a speech to the Federation of American Hospitals.

Azar said the administration is focused on taking steps towards lowering the costs of care for Americans, while instituting a series of reforms to Medicare and Medicaid. The administration also wants to add price transparency–a missing feature of the U.S. health care market–to allow consumers to shop around for the best price, like they would for virtually every other good or service.

“The four areas of emphasis are the following: giving consumers greater control over health information through interoperable and accessible health information technology; encouraging transparency from providers and payers; using experimental models in Medicare and Medicaid to drive value and quality throughout the entire system; and removing government burdens that impede this value-based transformation,” Azar said.

The HHS secretary did not provide any more details, but Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma is expected to elaborate tomorrow at a conference in Las Vegas.

Azar gave a warning to the hospital administrators in the crowd: Cost reforms that you have benefited from are coming.

“Today’s healthcare system is simply not delivering outcomes commensurate with its cost,” Azar said. “Change represents opportunity, and I exhort all of you to take advantage of the opportunities represented by what I’ve discussed today. Because I assure you: Change is possible, change is necessary, and change is coming.”

The administration isn’t alone in its push for greater price transparency.

GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Todd Young of Indiana, along with Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tom Carper of Delaware, are pushing what they call a “health care price transparency initiative.”

The bipartisan group sent a letter to virtually every major player in the health care marketplace, including insurance companies, trade organizations and the industry’s lobbying arm, asking one question: how can we introduce price transparency into the market so consumers can effectively shop for the best price that meets their individual needs?

“Real world experience and evidence-based policies from health care stakeholders and experts will be important to craft a policy that most positively affects consumers and involves best practices from providers and states,” the senators wrote. “We all agree that health care costs are too high and now is time to move towards a system that is more open, efficient, and accountable to the needs of the modern patient.”

Republicans are slowly backing away from trying to repeal and replace Obamacare, championing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate in the 2017 tax reform bill as the long-promised repeal and replace.

A group of 20 state attorneys general are suing the federal government in the wake of the individual mandate repeal, arguing Obamacare is no longer constitutional in the wake of the mandate’s repeal. However, it does not appear to be rallying the party behind another attempt at overhauling the American health care system in 2018.

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