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Chairman Smith Opening Statement: Markup of Health Care Price Transparency Act of 2023

July 26, 2023

As prepared for delivery.

“For decades, health care inflation has far outpaced normal cost increases for most other services. Many people now spend the biggest portion of their income on health care. While costs continue to rise, our system makes it nearly impossible for patients to figure out the actual price for almost any type of treatment, drug, or procedure.

“The Health Care Price Transparency Act of 2023 is a win for patients who deserve to know the actual price they will pay before they go see the doctor, fill a prescription, or get an x-ray. Families should not have to live at the mercy of large medical corporations who are too ashamed to list their prices publicly.

“This bill is about bringing honesty and clarity to the cost of health care. It improves a Trump Administration rule requiring hospitals to publish prices for the medical services they provide and extends this meaningful transparency to other sites of service including ambulatory surgical centers and providers of imaging and laboratory services.

“Importantly, the bill holds the Administration accountable for enforcing these requirements. At a Ways and Means hearing in May, we heard that of the more than 6,000 hospitals in America, as many as 75 percent are noncompliant with the rule, yet only four have been fined for not complying. Clearly, Congress needs to do more to ensure meaningful price transparency reaches patients.

“This legislation will also require transparency for health insurers and PBM middlemen so that patients and employers can better understand how their benefits are managed. Unleashing this important information will spur competition and lower prices across the entire health care system.

“At another Ways and Means hearing this Spring, the Committee learned about Medicare patients facing higher out-of-pocket costs for the exact same medical service, just because a hospital’s name is on the door. Today, we take a step forward in ending this nonsensical practice, directly lowering the costs seniors pay for expensive drug services like chemotherapy while preventing facilities from using billing loopholes to charge taxpayers a higher price.

“More and more, a patient’s doctor, health insurer, PBM and pharmacy, could all be owned by the same parent company – this is especially true in Medicare. Taxpayers deserve to know that seniors on Medicare are receiving services because it’s good for their health, not because it is good for the financial health of a large company.

“Additionally, under this bill, seniors on Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage will no longer be charged more for a drug than the price their insurer pays. I know my colleagues across the aisle share in our goal of lowering the cost of medications – particularly for America’s seniors – and so I hope they’ll join us in advancing this key patient protection.

“This legislation also reinvests savings into an important, bipartisan priority for all members here today – improving the prior authorization process for seniors on Medicare Advantage. While we are glad to see the Administration issue a proposed rule last year, we want to send a clear message that Congress is pushing for the rule to be finalized so patients and their doctors can better decide when they receive care.

“For families, paying for their health care can be a real source of anxiety. Through this legislation, we can give patients the confidence of knowing what they will pay for their health care while creating incentives for everyone in the health care system to lower prices.”