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Trump to issue executive order increasing transparency in hospital prices, doctor fees

President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump will issue Monday an executive order designed to pressure insurers, doctors and other health-care providers to disclose more information about their prices, administration officials said.

The executive order will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to require hospitals and insurers to disclose negotiated rates for services as well as provide patients with out-of-pocket costs before their procedures.

Transparency can “empower” patient choice, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a call Monday with reporters.

“The president has a clear vision for American health care,” Azar said. “Today, the president is delivering on that historic promise.”

Shares of major U.S. insurance companies and hospitals were down Monday after reports of the planned order surfaced. The stock of insurers Anthem, Centene, Humana and Cigna all dropped in morning trading. Hospital stocks were down too, with Community Health and Tenet Healthcare falling Monday morning.

However, stock prices for HCA Holdings and Universal Health seemed unaffected by the news.

The executive order follows Trump’s announcement of his re-election campaign last week. High health costs have become a rare bipartisan issue with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle demanding changes. Trump has made lowering prices one of the key issues of his administration as health care remains a top issue for voters in the 2020 elections.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced it would require pharmaceutical companies to disclose the price of their prescription medicines in television commercials starting in July, sparking a lawsuit from Amgen, Merck and Eli Lilly.

Azar said the executive order Monday is a move to bring transparency to the entire industry following the Trump administration’s new rules requiring drugmakers to disclose their prices in TV ads.

While advocates say the order will allow Americans to choose the lowest-cost health care services, some critics in the industry say it could actually cause prices to rise if businesses learn their competitors are receiving greater discounts from insurers.