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Burgess and Green Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Cost Transparency for Patients

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Michael Burgess M.D. (R-TX) and Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at making health care more affordable by promoting greater transparency around the costs of health care services for patients. The Health Care Price Transparency Promotion Act of 2016 calls upon the states to establish and maintain laws requiring disclosure of information on hospital charges, to make such information available to the public, and to provide individuals with information about estimated out-of-pocket costs for health care services.

“At no point in the course of care should patients ever be left in the dark, lacking critical information to make the most informed decision about treatment options, particularly when it comes to cost. Our current health insurance system insulates patients from the true cost of health services,” said Rep. Burgess. “This legislation takes the first step towards ensuring true price transparency in the health care market.”

“The fact that patients rarely know what health care services cost until after they've received them and the wide variety in pricing, make the health care market uniquely difficult to navigate,” said Rep. Green. “Greater transparency around prices of health care services will enable patients and families to choose lower-cost, high-value care and promote competition in the market. This bill is an important first step towards empowering patients and advancing value-based care.”

Additionally, this bill calls for research on: (1) the types of cost information that individuals find useful in making decisions regarding healthcare; (2) how this useful information varies according to an individual’s health insurance coverage, and if so, by what type of coverage they have; and (3) ways that this information may be distributed in a timely and simple manner.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, total health care spending in the United States grew 2.9 percent in 2013 and another 5.3 percent in 2014, reaching $3.0 trillion or $9,523 per person. This is a $300 billion increase in total spending since 2011 and is projected to grow at an average rate of 5.8 percent per year. As a share of the nation's Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounts for 17.5 percent and expected to reach 19.6 percent by 2024.

The bill has the support of numerous groups including the American Hospital Association (AHA).

“We strongly support the Health Care Price Transparency Promotion Act. This legislation builds on existing state efforts, while requiring insurers to provide information on estimated out-of-pocket costs for health care services, often the most valuable information for insured patients. Patients should have all available tools to help them make important choices about their care,” said Tom Nickels, Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy at the American Hospital Association.