Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is leading a bipartisan push on Capitol Hill to increase healthcare cost transparency.
“Can you imagine [going to] get a blood test [and] know[ing] the cost of it beforehand, as opposed to getting the bill six months later?” Cassidy rhetorically asked Breitbart News’ Amanda House during an interview on Breitbart News Sunday.
“You would never buy blue jeans or a car or anything else unless you knew the price beforehand,” Cassidy added.
“What we’re trying to do is allow the patients to know the cost before they make [a health care] purchase as opposed to later and [permit the patient] to be able to so-called comparative shop.”
“We need to make it so you can look on your smartphone and you can [compare] the medicine costs [at different pharmacies].”
Cassidy, along with several of his colleagues, introduced two pieces of legislation in March, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act and the Know the Lowest Price Act, that would remove barriers that prevent consumers from paying the lowest cost possible for prescription drugs.
These bills would prevent health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from using “pharmacy gag clauses” — a practice that some companies use to hide prices from patients at the pharmacy, leading many Americans to unnecessarily overpay for prescriptions.
According to a press release, “Pharmacy gag clauses forbid pharmacists from proactively telling consumers if their prescription would cost less if they paid for it out of pocket rather than using their insurance plan. Pharmacists who disobey these clauses face significant penalties.”
“It blows my mind,” Cassidy told House.
The Louisiana senator and his bipartisan working group recently received roughly 1,000 pages of feedback from various health care, health insurance, and think tank groups regarding their legislation.
“If you’re making money off the current system… you can’t see it changing. It’s amazing the way that works.” Cassidy joked about those who oppose the legislation.
A related health care push is coming from the White House. President Donald Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar unveiled the “blueprint to lower drug prices” in a White House Rose Garden ceremony on Friday.
Cassidy, who attended the event, applauded President Trump’s plan in a statement, arguing that his actions will lower drug prices:
As a doctor, I loved it when the president said he wants to put patients first. He laid out a way to take power away from special interests—protecting innovation, but not protecting drug monopolies. This plan will lower prices in the near term and continue to lower prices in different ways over the next several years. We are going to make health care affordable again.
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