With the Supreme Court having (unsurprisingly) upheld ObamaCare again, Republicans are playing defense on health policy in Washington. Advancing conservative health-policy principles at the state level—where they have majority control in 30 legislatures—allows Republicans to advance federalism while also strengthening consumer-based healthcare. While Democrats fight to shift costs to taxpayers and expand government programs, state Republicans can show that a better approach is to reduce costs and empower consumers. Here are some specific policies they can champion and expand:
• Require more price transparency. States can build on the Trump administration’s rules requiring price transparency for health plans and hospitals by including more providers, including physicians; beefing up enforcement to ensure compliance; and compiling data online in a format that allows for easy comparisons. At least nine states have built price-comparison websites for consumers, and many have or are building all-payer claims databases for payers and employers. Empowering consumers with more price and quality information is increasingly important as more patients shop for healthcare with higher deductibles and other forms of cost-sharing. New Hampshire started posting prices for imaging scans in 2007 and has seen costs reduced for consumers and insurers.
Employers can use the information to set reference prices for procedures, as California does for state employees, allowing comparison shopping and creating incentives for providers to become more efficient. Price transparency also increases pressure on intermediaries like health plans, third-party administrators, and pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate more effectively on behalf of their customers and makes it harder for them to profit despite higher health inflation from misaligned incentives.
Read More: Wall Street Journal