Trump: We’re Making Healthcare Prices More Transparent
President Trump announced two historic rules to make healthcare prices more transparent than ever before.
Trump was Monday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”. He made the announcement last Friday in the Roosevelt Room at the White house. Here are his words:
“This afternoon, we celebrate something that I’m very proud of: another major victory in our mission to deliver great healthcare at a price that you can afford. This will have a tremendous impact on prices.
A certain gentleman, who is in the room — who will say a couple of words — actually said this is more important than healthcare. And when he said that, my ears really perked up, and I listened. And they were right, and they gave me plenty of examples. And that person recently got the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His name is Art Laffer, and he’s a very talented guy.
Where is Art? Is he here? Yes?
DR. LAFFER: I’m sort of short today. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Art. I didn’t see you. I didn’t see you back there. All right, stand up here. A great gentleman. And you brought a man here who’s the king of that world. And — hello. How are you? That’s the guy. And you made that statement to me: “More important than healthcare.” That was a big statement. As soon as I heard that, I said, “That sounds good to me.” It’s transparency.
So I signed, as you know, an executive order — historic. And we’re requiring price transparency in healthcare, forcing companies to compete for your business. It’s a very important thing that we’ve done here. I don’t think it’ll be covered by you, but it will be in the years to come.
Our goal was to give patients the knowledge they need about the real price of healthcare services. They’ll be able to check them, compare them, go to different locations, so they can shop for the highest-quality care at the lowest cost. And this is about high-quality care. You’re also looking at that. You’re looking at comparisons between talents, which is very important. And then, you’re also looking at cost. And, in some cases, you get the best doctor for the lowest cost. That’s a — that’s a good thing.
Today, I’m proud to announce two new actions implementing that order. First, we are finalizing a rule that will compel hospitals to publish prices publicly online for everyone to see and to compare. So you’re able to go online and compare all of the hospitals and the doctors and the prices, and, I assume, get résumés on doctors and see who you like.
And the good doctors — like, I assume these two guys are fantastic doctors, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. (Laughter.) And the bad doctors, I guess they have to go and hide someplace. I don’t know. Maybe they don’t do so well. I don’t know. But if they’re not good, we — we are more interested in the good ones. It’s called “rewarding talent.”
Second, we’re putting forward a proposed rule to require health insurance providers to disclose their pricing information to consumers. We’re giving American families control of their healthcare decisions. And the freedom to choose that care is right before them on the Internet and elsewhere, but on the Internet. Very, very open. Very transparent. That’s why it’s called transparency.
And this has been done on a small basis, on individual hospitals. In fact, Art, you were telling me about that, with your hospital, that you’re on the board of a hospital that did this.
I’d like you to actually — before I go further, I’d like you talk about that just for a second. Art Laffer. Art, just mention that, if you could.
DR. LAFFER: Yeah. You’ve got to lower it really far. (Laughter.) Sorry about that.
Let me, if I can, just say I was the chairman of the board of Centennial Hospital. We had some problems. But when you look at this, this is the biggest revolution I’ve seen in generations. I mean — and as opposed to most revolutions, this revolution saves lives; it doesn’t cost lives.
And, in this revolution, it saves money. You don’t have to spend money. And what you’ve seen here before is that we have no transparency whatsoever in medical. It’s like the hermit kingdom of industries. You don’t know what the price is. You don’t know what the outcome is. And you don’t know what the inputs are.
What this does is this pulls away the veil and allows people to see exactly what they can and what they do. And if I can say, I think this will lead to a phenomenal change in the U.S. outcome of employment output production. It’s just one of the industries that desperately needs this.
I’ll stop about here, but the last one I can remember being involved with was with Lady Thatcher when she privatized coal, steel, and the railroads. I mean, the changes there with Sir Keith Joseph. And this outdoes all of those revolutions, sir. It’s the most amazing of all time.
And it takes real leadership to do it and real practitioners to be able to get it through. And Secretary Azar is a great practitioner, and my buddy Larry Ku- — Larry Van Horn is also a great practitioner — as well as Larry Kudlow, by the way. (Laughter.) Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: And I’d like to have Larry maybe say a few words and explain what this is that we’re being — for the public.
DR. VAN HORN: Sure, Mr. President. This is a momentous day. Americans, year over year, have been faced with higher and higher healthcare costs, facing higher and higher obligation to pay for those out of their own wallets without information around the price and the quality associated with that.
The charges that have been put out are fictitious. Nobody pays the charges. This effort is to make real prices transparent. The net allowed amounts that drive the decision-making for patients every day will now be in their hands. They can make better trade-offs and have, hopefully, more money in their wallets and their paychecks to pay for all of the goods and services they need to live their lives.
So this is a very momentous day. And I appreciate the efforts of the administration all the way through in terms of being able to follow through and execute this.
THE PRESIDENT: And it we did max, right? We didn’t do a smaller version?
MR. VAN HORN: We did it max.
SECRETARY AZAR: A-plus.
MR. VAN HORN: It’s A-plus.
THE PRESIDENT: I kept saying —
MR. VAN HORN: A-plus. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: There are versions of this. I said, “No, I don’t want the C or the D. I want the A-plus.” And we did it the A-plus, so I’m very happy with that. And I think you’re going to see things. It’s kicking in immediately. It’ll kick in as of today, but it’s going to really start going during the course of the year, the following year — this year coming. And you’ll see some results that are going to be actually incredible in terms of costs coming down and, I think, in terms of the quality of the care because you’re picking people that you’d want to be with.
This afternoon, we’re grateful to be joined by Secretary Steve Mnuchin — wherever you may be, Steve. Where is Steve?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Right here.
THE PRESIDENT: Hi, Steve.
Secretary Gene Scalia. And I hear you’re really doing a job over there. Huh?
SECRETARY SCALIA: We’re doing our best.
THE PRESIDENT: Labor is doing okay. Your numbers are certainly doing very good. It’s a good time to be Department of Labor. Right? This is a —
SECRETARY SCALIA: A great story to tell.
THE PRESIDENT: Right. Thank you very much. Good.
Secretary Alex Azar. Thank you, Alex. Thank you. Thank you, Alex.
And Administrator Seema Verma. Thank you very much, Seema. Where’s Seema? This is an unusual group today. They’re spread all over the place.
I also want to welcome Representatives Kevin Brady, Michael Burgess, and Greg Walden. They’ve been so fantastic on getting us to a really good position with the taxes.
We’re going to be doing a major middle-income tax cut if we take back the House. And we’ll talking about that sometime later. But we’re going to be doing a very major middle-income tax cut, mostly devoted to middle income who have really been big beneficiaries of the tax cut we did, which was the largest in the history of our country. But we’re doing a major tax cut for the middle income, and that’ll be subject, obviously, to take — taking over the House, because Democrats like tax increases, not tax cuts.
I also want to thank our state leaders. We have a lot state leaders here today at the highest level, and I want to thank them for being here. And a special thanks again to highly respected economists, Dr. Art Laffer and Dr. Larry Van Horn.
And, really, it was those two people that came to my office. We were talking about Art, and we were all congratulating him because he did an incredible job over a lot of years with Ronald Reagan and beyond. And when I said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom,” which is the highest civilian award you can get, he told me this little story about a certain hospital he was involved with where they did this. And every hospital has had just incredible experience with it. And I said, “Tell me more.” And then we got involved with Larry and Larry Kudlow also, by the way. And we had a little group of four people that talked about it a lot. And I think it’s going to have a tremendous impact.
And again, the statement was made: “This is bigger than healthcare.” And I think it will be. I think it’ll be more meaningful, in many ways. You’ll save so much money and you’ll get the care that you want, and you’ll choose the doctor you want, which was not possible despite the many pleas. You know, “You can have your plan and you can have your doctor.” Well, they turned out to be untrue statements about Obamacare.
For decades, hospitals, insurance companies, lobbyists, and special interests have hidden prices from consumers so they could drive up costs for you. And you had no idea what was happening. You’d get bills that were unbelievable and you have no idea why.
For example, researchers found that for the same MRI at the same hospital, patients were charged anywhere from $248 to $2,500. So, 10 times more, at the same hospital. I assume that would be different doctors within the same hospital. I don’t know if the hospitals are going to like me too much anymore with this, but that’s okay, right? That’s okay. I think the doctors are going to, actually.
In the Boston area, the price of delivering a baby can cost anywhere from roughly $4,700 to nearly $16,000. One survey found that within a single metro area, the highest negotiated price for a simple blood test was roughly 40 times more than the lowest price. They were given exactly the same service — in some cases, sent them to the same labs — and were charged 40 times more money.
Under the new price transparency rule we are finalizing today — and it will be all finalized — it is finalized; it’ll be put out today — all of that will change. Hospitals will soon be required to publish the price of everything from individual medical supplies to the total cost of common procedures.
Next, we will bring much-needed price transparency to insurance companies. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled. This will allow you to see your out-of-pocket costs and other vital price information before you go in for treatment. So you’re going to know what it’s going to be and you’re going to be able to have lots of choices, both in terms of doctors, hospitals, and price. And we’re stopping American patients from just getting, pure and simple — two words, very simple words: ripped off. Because they’ve been ripped off for years. For a lot of years.
With us today is Melissa Ural who works for a company that benefits from price transparency. And, Melissa, could you come up and say a few words?
MS. URAL: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Great. Thank you, Melissa. Thank you very much.
MS. URAL: Thank you, Mr. President. My name is Melissa Ural, and I am the vice president of human resources for HB Global. We are an employee-owned mechanical contracting company.
Transparent pricing initiative aligns with our ownership model because it allows employees to get the care that they need at the cost that they want.
Currently, we are partnering with a broker to work and negotiate prices for surgeries and other procedures at local surgical centers. This allows our employees to know what the procedure or what the cost will look like when they walk through the door.
This also allows our employees to get great care at a fraction of the cost, with the same quality and standard of care that they would have gotten, and they won’t receive any surprise bills.
Right now, we have some price transparency behind the scenes, but with full price transparency up front, our employees can make the best decisions possible.
We wouldn’t expect our employees to go buy a car or a house without knowing the price up front. Why should their healthcare be any different?
I want to thank the President for bringing this important initiative to the front. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Melissa. (Applause.)
MS. URAL: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good job, Melissa.
We’re also joined by Kara Boeckel, who works for the same company and benefitted when her employer shopped for the best price on a surgery — a surgery that she needed. And I’d like to have Kara come up and please tell us about it. Kara? Please.
MS. BOECKEL: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MS. BOECKEL: My name is Kara Boeckel and I work for HB Global, along with Melissa. And in January of this year, I had surgery on my ankle. I’m the sole provider of my two-year-old son, so this impact was huge for his and my day-to-day life.
When I initially went to an orthopedic urgent care, I had no idea what I was going to pay, no idea what the costs were going to be. I just know that I needed to get help. I ended up with a bill for over $1,000. This was an unexpected expense that my family now had to endure, and it had a huge impact on us.
I would — it was a huge stresser to know that I needed surgery and not know what the cost was going to be and how it was going to impact my life.
Thankfully, my company was able to work with a brokerage firm and shop around to know what prices were going to be beforehand. With insurance, the claim my company would have paid was $19,500, and we wouldn’t have known that cost until afterwards. By shopping around beforehand, we knew the claim was going to be $7,800, which is a 60 percent price difference. And it was at zero cost to me. I was even able to get the care out of the same facility that I was going to go to if I would have used my insurance.
I want to thank the President for making healthcare more transparent so that others in my situation don’t have to have these unexpected financial surprises and hardships.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
MS. BOECKEL: Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Kara. Also with us is Dr. Rick Schultz, Chief Medical Officer at Texas Free Market Surgery. Doctor, I’d like to have you come up and say a few words about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Thank you, Dr. Rick.
DR. SCHULTZ: Thank you. Well, thank you very much for having us here today. This is a very exciting day. I’d like to take a minute to talk about stewardship.
First, I’d like to thank Jesus for allowing me the opportunity and charging me with being a good steward of the opportunity and the abilities to practice orthopedic surgery in Texas for the last 20 years.
I’d also like to thank the President for his leadership and stewardship in this effort and the fact that, since he’s been elected, he trusts Americans to be courageous and make smart decisions with their own money and their own healthcare. And he knows that we’re smart enough to make good decisions now.
This policy — this transparency will be the fuel for healthcare innovation very similar to what we’re doing with Texas Free Market Surgery and Texas Medical Management. Right now, every day, we take good care of patients at a very fair price, and it’s completely transparent. This is not something in the future; this is something we’re doing today. If you don’t believe me, just check out our website.
Finally, I’d really like to challenge the Americans that this is a right that you’re getting back, to know the price of your healthcare. This is going to be a fight. This is very disruptive. The people who are currently making a lot of money off of us are going to fight this tooth and nail. If you aren’t ready to fight for this, then don’t complain when it gets taken away from you.
Mr. President, thank you for stepping into the gap, taking the slings and arrows, and helping to get this going.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you.
DR. SCHULTZ: Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I think, if I could, I’d like to have Kevin Brady come up just for a second and talk about what we’ve done with the individual mandate and how that’s just a part of our — a small part, but it’s a very big part in terms of healthcare; what we did with respect to our tax cuts and our reforms. And you might want to discuss the individual mandate. Getting rid of it was such a big deal. Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE BRADY: So thank you — thank you, Mr. President. So, first, thank you for being the President who led on letting people keep more of what they earn so they can afford healthcare costs, utility costs, college costs, all of which has seemed to go up.
Secondly, thank you for — when we saw the failings of the Affordable Care Act, especially forcing average Texans, average Americans, into buying healthcare they couldn’t use and couldn’t afford, you stepped forward with Congress to eliminate, effectively, that mandate. So — which was another tax cut on the American people.
You’ve also created association health plans. Because if you’re in a small business — if you work for a small business or have one, you’ve been left behind under the Affordable Care Act. Your plans that allow our small businesses to join together to afford healthcare the way the big companies do — they’re cutting prices 30 and 40 percent, making healthcare affordable again. Hugely helpful.
And then, today, as Art Laffer has pointed out — and you too, Mr. President — look, patients are confused. Families don’t know what things cost. You can’t shop around and don’t understand the price. This, pulling back the curtain on healthcare prices, will help competition occur; give us, as families and patients, choices ahead of time; and will ultimately lower the healthcare costs.
And I’ll close with this: It’s easy to have quality care or affordable care. The goal is to have both. Making these prices transparent allow our families and our businesses to have quality care and affordable at the same time. This really is transformational. Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. It all, sort of, fits in. It’s like a puzzle. And I see my friend, Greg. I can’t believe you’re going to be leaving Congress one of these days. I was so disappointed to see that, but you’re fantastic. And we all work together with everybody — all of us.
Come on up here, the two of you. I’d like you to discuss Right to Try a little bit. And, I mean, you think about — it’s really a very important part of healthcare.
REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN: It is.
THE PRESIDENT: The ultimate part of healthcare. And for 45 years, they’ve been trying to get it passed and they couldn’t do it. And Greg Walden, the three of us plus a lot, we’ve got it done.
REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN: Hear, hear.
THE PRESIDENT: Congressman, thank you very much.
REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN: Hear, hear. Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. Please.
REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN: Well, thank you, Mr. President. We’ve never had a President lean further, farther forward on behalf of patients than President Donald Trump. (Applause.) And we finally got into law — we finally got into law Right to Try. Now you’re going to get in place “Right to Know.” (Laughter.) We should have the right to know what these things cost.
This is — I was here with you when you talked about surprise medical billing. And we are very close to legislating on that, Mr. President. And that is a huge win for consumers. This is a huge win for consumers. You’re doing the right thing. And Dr. Mike Burgess, who was my Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health Care, now the top Republican on healthcare, has really been a leader in this effort as well, Mr. President.
And your team, working with the Secretaries and Seema and others, have been at the forefront of this. And Americans are benefitting. And the one thing I hear about is what Kevin Brady talked about: We want affordable care, we want innovation, but we have to be able to afford it. And you can’t know what things cost if they won’t tell you. And it’s all hidden back behind the curtain.
So, Mr. President, thanks for your leadership and your team’s leadership.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Michael, say a few words, please.
REPRESENTATIVE BURGESS: Well, what I hear from constituents all the time — I practiced medicine for 25 years — they’re concerned with the cost and complexity of healthcare. This is a major step — major step — in delivering on that promise for patients.
Look, there’s another party in town that just wants to take away all your choices and give you one choice. This President is trying to expand your choices. That’s a better choice.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Michael. (Applause.)
REPRESENTATIVE BURGESS: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much.
So the actions that we’re announcing today are only the latest steps in our campaign to deliver great healthcare for American patients. Our efforts to reduce the price of prescription drugs — and I don’t know if you know that, but this is the first time, Secretary Azar, I think in 51 years, that prices have actually gone down —
SECRETARY AZAR: Yep.
THE PRESIDENT: — for prescription drugs. So, that’s quite an achievement.
And if we had the help of the Democrats, which we don’t — it’s a shame, because we could knock drug prices down so low. We will be giving states the right to go to other countries to buy their drugs, because other countries — because they don’t have these crazy, arcane rules that we could fix so quickly if we had the help of the Democrats. But they want the price of drugs to say high, I suppose.
But we brought it down the most in 51 years, and we’re very proud of that. But we can bring them down much more. And one of the things I’m doing is, as an example, Canada will pay much less for drugs because they don’t have to pay for research and development, so their pricing is much cheaper. So we’ll buy — I’m working with Ron DeSantis in Florida and some other governors — great governors. And they’re going to buy from other countries and skip all of the nonsense. And I think, ultimately, what that’s going to do is the drug companies will bring the price of their drugs down, or they’ll buy from other countries. That’s okay, too.
The same pill, made in the same factory, made by the same company, sells for 50, 60, and 70 percent less in one country than it does in another. And we’re always the high country. So, I’m going to be giving governors the right, very shortly, to buy — I’ve already given some the right — to buy their — their prescription drugs from other countries. And we avoid — we skirt a lot of — a lot — that probably sounds like a pretty good idea to you. What do you think, huh?
DR. LAFFER: We love it. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: You, as the great economist. So, anyway.
So, the actions that we’re announcing today are the latest steps. Our efforts to reduce the price of prescription drugs — we’re going to have some tremendous results. We could do it so simply if we had any kind of help from the Democrats. But they’re doing so many other things, namely one: wasting a lot of time. And very bad for our country, what they’re doing.
And they should approve USMCA. By the way, it’s the greatest trade deal ever made. (Applause.) And they should stop playing games. And, you know, Mexico signed it many months ago. Canada keeps calling me: “When is this deal going to happen? Is this deal going to happen?” And it’s sitting on Nancy Pelosi’s desk for about three months, four months. Nervous Nancy — she needs a little nervous energy to get it done because all she has to do is put it up. She’s got plenty of Democrat votes. A lot of Democrats are pushing her, but she doesn’t want to do it because she doesn’t want to have a victory for the American people. And that’s all it is. So either she does it or she doesn’t do it.
But Mexico wants to know what’s happening. Canada wants to know what’s happening. They could live without it. Because it’s a great deal for us. They could live without it. And they want to know what’s going on.
We eliminated the Obamacare individual mandate penalty, and we’re expanding affordable alternatives which cost up to 60 percent less than Obamacare plans. And it could be even quite a bit higher than that, in some cases. And we will always protect patients with preexisting conditions, and, as I’ve been saying lately, and also patients with preexisting physicians. (Laughter.) I thought that was good. I made it in one speech. I said, “You know, people like that.” But it’s true, because you didn’t have your doctor, you didn’t have your plan. And now you have the plan and you have the doctor. So, it’s pretty good.
In everything we do, my administration is fighting for the rights of American consumers, the well being of American patients, and the health of American people. We’re taking on the bureaucrats in more ways than one. You probably notice that, right? We’re taking on a lot bureaucrats. We’re taking on the insurance companies, and we’re taking on the special interests.
And that’s one of the difficulties I have in Washington because I’ve taken on a lot of the establishment. And a lot of the politicians are taken care of by the establishment, and they don’t like that I take on the establishment. But I’m taking it on for the consumer, for the American people. And that’s why you see prices going down. And you haven’t seen anything yet. Things are going to happen that will be shocking. But there are people in Washington — as I say, there are people in the swamp that don’t like what I’m doing for that reason.
We will not rest until every American has access to the highest quality, most affordable healthcare anywhere in the world.
And, again, I want to thank you all. And I’d like to ask Secretary Azar to come up and say a few words. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY AZAR: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. And thank you for your leadership. You asked us, as you said earlier, to deliver “A-plus” transparency in healthcare. Well, right now, our system wouldn’t even get a passing grade on transparency. Patients are at the mercy of a shadowy system with no control over their care. But thanks to your leadership and your transparency executive order, we’re changing that.
The changes you described, what we’re doing at HHS, will be revolutionary to our healthcare system — perhaps the biggest single change that President Trump has made to Americans’ healthcare experience. More than 70 percent of the most common hospital services are shoppable. We’re delivering American patients the information they need to make the right choices for themselves.
That’s crucial to the kind of system that we’re building for American patients with affordable, personalized, patient-centric care that puts you in control and treats you like a human being and not like a number.
So thank you, Mr. President, for delivering American patients the affordability that you need, the options and control that you want, and the quality that you deserve.
A key leader in this work has been Administrator Verma, who will now say a few words. Seema. (Applause.)
ADMINISTRATOR VERMA: Thank you, Alex.
First of all, I want to thank the President because people have been talking about price transparency forever. We all know that what’s been going on in the healthcare system has been wrong. It’s not fair that patients don’t know the cost of the services that they’re going to get. But only one man has been willing to stand up to special interests and do what’s right for patients and put them back in control of their healthcare. So, thank you, President Trump.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATOR VERMA: Really appreciate it.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
ADMINISTRATOR VERMA: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
So, after many, many years, we finally have transparency. It’s going into effect today. It will have a tremendous impact. It will, sort of, go in sections and stages, but it all begins today. And within about 12 months, I think it’ll be fully implemented — and, we can even say, probably a shorter period of time than that. Some of it’s complex and some of it’s very easy. But it’s all very good. It’s — there’s never been anything like this.
So the word is “transparency,” and I love transparency in many ways. And this is going to be something that’s going to be — it’s going to be incredible for the consumer, for the patient. I think it’s going to be really good for the good doctors, maybe not so good for other doctors. I think it’s going to be really good for the great hospitals, frankly. And it’s very exciting.
And it’s something that again, Art, I want to thank you very much because you really did bring it to my attention and I appreciate it very much. Thank you very much.”
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