President Trump’s Executive Order, “Putting American Patients First by Making Healthcare More Transparent,” is most welcomed and necessary.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons thanks President Trump for identifying and seeking to reverse flawed policies that encourage third party payment and perpetuate the opaqueness that is plaguing American Medicine.
We wholeheartedly cheer the section, “Empowering Patients by Enhancing Control Over Their Healthcare Resources.” It is past time to allow Health Savings Accounts to operate as intended without regulatory handcuffs that limit their application and availability. Patients in Direct Primary Care practices and members of Health Sharing Ministries will finally be able to efficiently save for future medical needs in HSAs as well as have the funds available for their immediate care.
While we support the spirit of the Order we are concerned that government mandated transparency will not provide a lasting solution. Properly functioning markets do not require mandates; they make price information easily available or risk losing paying customers. Additionally, regulatory-imposed transparency provides the opportunity for rules to be written to favor entities with the most political influence.
We are also concerned about the proposed “Health Quality Roadmap” … “that aims to align and improve reporting on data and quality measures” across government and certain private plans. In our view, having physicians spend their time checking the boxes wastes time that could be spent on patient care. Importantly, if we must comply with such measures, the medical profession, not government bureaucrats must determine the parameters of “quality.”
Similarly, the “Increasing Access to Data” proposal seeking to arm patients with data to better inform their choices has an unintended downside. Basing standards of care on oft-times unreliable claims data puts patient safety at risk. This approach also may encourage “cook-book” medicine rather than the individualized care we all endeavor to provide. Further, while data may be de-identified, it can often still be reidentified. Patients’ right to consent to use of their data must also be respected.
When “Addressing Surprise Medical Billing” we would like the Administration to consider the central role insurers play in creating the problem. Third party payers too often scapegoat the physicians providing the medical care instead of addressing their own business practices, particularly the imposition of narrow networks. Most current proposals addressing surprise bills would put price controls on physicians’ services. Instead of solving the problem, price controls will limit physicians’ ability to negotiate a fair contract with a health plan and result in their exiting the plan, leaving patients with even fewer practitioner choices. We believe the surprise billing problem will resolve itself naturally with the advent of healthy free market principles. Choice and competition will enable patients to regain the power to purchase health insurance that meaningfully covers catastrophic events instead of micromanaging every dollar spent.
Again we thank President Donald J. Trump for advancing policies that put patients first. We look forward to helping him and his Administration. Please reach out to us anytime.