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. Failure to do so would result in a financial penalty to be determined by HHS.
Kagen called the current healthcare system “upside down,” allowing for those with no insurance at all to get charged the entirety of a healthcare bill while those with some level of coverage get to pay a negotiated lower rate.
“Some will argue that showing everyone all of the prices is too complex, for there are tens of thousands of prices at any given hospital,” Kagen said. “But today's technology allows all of us to go online on the Internet and search for items to purchase and find exactly what we want to buy within milliseconds.”
Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the committee's senior Republican, but backed by some Democrats, 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. Two years out, it would require hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers to publicly disclose the charges for services they typically perform.
A third bill requires a higher level of transparency in the Medicaid program.