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Guest Article

Deloitte logo

(From the August 28, 2006 issue of Deloitte's Washington Bulletin, a periodic update of legal and regulatory developments relating to Employee Benefits.)

President Bush Issues Health Care Transparency Executive Order


President Bush has been a steady advocate of consumer access to health care information on prices and quality. On August 22, 2006, he signed an Executive Order that will require the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, the Medicare program, Indian Health Service programs, the TRICARE program for the Department of Defense and other uniformed services, and the health care program operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs to take certain steps to increase health pricing and quality transparency, to enhance health information technology interoperability, and promote "quality and efficiency of care" through consumer-directed health insurance products.

Overview

According to a White House press release, these initiatives will:

  1. Increase Transparency In Pricing. The Executive Order directs Federal agencies that sponsor or administer Federal health care programs to share information about prices paid to health care providers for procedures with beneficiaries.

  2. Increase Transparency In Quality. The Executive Order directs Federal agencies that sponsor or administer Federal health care programs to develop programs to measure quality of services provided by their doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, based on standards developed by "multi-stakeholder entities." The White House press release indicates this information also must be shared with beneficiaries, but the Executive Order states this requirement will be deemed satisfied if the agency "participates in the aggregation of claims and other appropriate data for the purposes of quality measurement."

  3. Encourage Adoption Of Health Information Technology (IT) Standards. The Executive Order directs Federal agencies that sponsor or administer Federal health care programs to use improved health IT systems to facilitate the rapid exchange of health information, through "recognized interoperability standards," and to require their contractors to do the same "where available."

  4. Provide Options That Promote Quality And Efficiency In Health Care. The Executive Order directs Federal agencies that sponsor or administer Federal health care programs to develop and identify approaches that facilitate high quality and efficient care. But the agency will be considered to have fulfilled that requirement if it merely "makes available to beneficiaries or enrollees consumer-directed health care insurance products."

Additional information about the Executive Order is available on the White House's Web site, at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/08/20060822-4.html.

Effective Date

The Executive Order requires compliance with its provisions by January 1, 2007. Medicare has an early start on compliance, already having made available the costs it pays for 30 common elective procedures and other hospital admissions. Executive Orders remain in effect until revoked by a sitting president.


Deloitte logoThe information in this Washington Bulletin is general in nature only and not intended to provide advice or guidance for specific situations.

If you have any questions or need additional information about articles appearing in this or previous versions of Washington Bulletin, please contact: Robert Davis 202.879.3094, Elizabeth Drigotas 202.879.4985, Taina Edlund 202.879.4956, Laura Edwards 202.879.4981, Mike Haberman 202.879.4963, Stephen LaGarde 202.879-5608, Bart Massey 202.220.2104, Martha Priddy Patterson 202.879.5634, Tom Pevarnik 202.879.5314, Carlisle Toppin 202.220.2067, Tom Veal 312.946.2595, Deborah Walker 202.879.4955.

Copyright 2006, Deloitte.


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