President Trump’s Salute to Patients Promises Welcome Changes, But Special Interests Attack

The week before President Trump’s Independence Day “Salute to America” he gave a welcome Salute to Patients when he signed Executive Order 13877, “Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare To Put Patients First.”

As free market champion Dr. Keith Smith of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma puts it, the “healthcare industry price gougers wore out their welcome” and were “kicked to the curb by President Trump.”

What does the order do? Its first priority is to end “opaque pricing structures,” that “benefit powerful special interest groups, such as large hospital systems and insurance companies,” but, “generally leave patients and taxpayers worse off than would a more transparent system.”

But there’s more: the order also aims to “enhance patients’ control over their own healthcare resources” by removing failed policies that impede patients from choosing to enroll in affordable Direct Primary Care practices or alternatives to big insurance like Health Care Sharing Ministries.

The bottom line is increasing patient freedom and choice is the centerpiece of President Trump’s order. However, make no mistake, it is also put a target squarely on the middlemen who have for too long taken advantage of backroom deals made with government cronies. And the middlemen are already fighting back with a vengeance and working to undermine the order.

Underestimating the special interests’ power to stop the good changes is not an option. Just last week the Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM) cartel killed a White House proposal that would begin to unwind corrupt kickbacks that result in out of control price hikes for life saving drugs through disingenuous propaganda that lower prices would somehow raise premiums.

And the fake news campaigns about the Transparency Order are already underway.

Thankfully physicians like Chad Savage, MD are debunking the industry lies:

No price transparency will not lead to higher prices. “This is akin to saying the best way to get a good price on a new Sony TV is to have no idea what it costs. If someone said that to you, you would rightly reject any future advice from that individual,” explains Dr. Savage.

Marni Jamison of the Association of Independent Doctors exposes another tactic of those who oppose transparency:

The cronies are “lawyering and lobbying up, busily working to undermine, narrow and water down the order. They are not going to give up the hundreds of billions of excess dollars flowing their way easily,” she writes and shares examples of weasel words insurers and mega health systems will attempt to use to corrupt the outcome.

Middlemen’s fingerprints are already evident on the order itself to some extent. For example the “Health Quality Roadmap” provisions empower the use of failed quality metrics that are already driving up the cost of care with out any benefit to outcomes. “Practitioners who practice according to the needs of their individual patients, not according to some standardized protocol approved by a third party whose only focus may be efficiency and cost-cutting, may be penalized,” warns Twila Brase of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom and award-winning author of Big Brother in the Exam Room. AAPS, while overall supportive of the order, flagged provisions as potentially harmful to privacy rights and urged that “patients’ right to consent to use of their data must also be respected.”

Winning these battles for patients and those who care for them will not be easy! But nothing worthwhile ever is. So let’s all Salute President Trump for taking these bold steps by stepping to help him fend off the special interests trying to thwart his welcome orders.

Surprise medical billing is an insurance network problem not a federal government problem.

Ophthalmologist Jane Hughes, MD of San Antonio writes in:

Let’s all get on the same page about one thing. Surprise medical billing is not a federal government problem.

It is a contractual problem between the insurance company and the insured patient, largely because no one reads the fine print. It is also the direct result of networks.

There are steps that states can take that would largely solve the surprise billing that insurance has perpetrated and one step is mandatory price transparency.

On a federal level issues that are their purview involve Medicare/Medicaid. Mandatory price transparency and a concomitant rule that regardless of who is paying, the charge for the identical service or product at the same facility by or from the identical provider must be the same.

This is not price fixing as each entity decides the fee for product or service rendered. Just like a gallon of milk at a specific grocery store is the same regardless of credit card used, cash, or food stamps.

Gee, what a novel idea…

I do not want a government “comprehensive replacement plan” for 1/6th of the private sector economy.

Friend of IP4PI and medical freedom warrior Jane L Hughes, MD writes in:

Greetings,

We need something that does not increase the cost to everyone! Approximately 50% of Americans don’t spend more than $1,000/yr on actual healthcare, and 89% don’t spend more than $5,000/year. Also, in my opinion, “Make America Healthy Again” is more a slogan for the public health department, not physicians per se. 100% of Americans who make it past 8th grade have had health class. They know obesity, smoking, drugs, sex, teen pregnancy all lead to problems. They persist in bad habits/lifestyles anyway. That is a societal problem that we all care about, and each of us in our own way influences as a physician. However, our primary job is screening, treating when necessary, managing chronic illnesses with our patients, and stressing behavioral changes that can impact future health issues with our patients. OK, on to what I think we need.

1. Repeal 100% of ObamaCare and start over with transparency regarding cost and sources of revenue for safety net on federal level. Continue reading