House Panel May Slow Action On Health Pricing Disclosure Bills

CongressDaily: Proposals to make the price of health care services and products more transparent to consumers has attracted bipartisan support on a House panel, but the subcommittee's chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., would not say whether he would allow such legislation to move forward. Having just passed the health overhaul legislation, Pallone said he thought Congress should devote energy to initiatives "outside of health care" (McCarthy, 5/7).

Modern Healthcare: The committee reviewed three related bills Thursday, which Pallone described as "a critical first step." He said, "We also would like to compare the three bills and see what kind of support there is" before moving forward. "One bill, introduced by Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wis.), also a physician, requires hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacies and a range of manufacturers and vendors to openly disclose prices." Another, introduced by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the Energy and Commerce committee's ranking member, "requires public and private health plans to make known what services they cover, any restrictions in that coverage and the cost-sharing requirements that are also involved" (DoBias, 5/6).

The Hill: Politics isn't the only reason for delaying the legislation. "'The concern I guess is about the unintended consequences of too much transparency,' Pallone said, pointing to a Congressional Budget Office report that suggests that increasing transparency in highly concentrated markets could lead to higher prices because providers can see what the others are charging" (Pecquet, 5/6).

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