Senator Carper Urges Increased Transparency in the Health Care Industry

Today, at the Senate Finance Committee hearing “Consolidation and Corporate Ownership in Health Care: Trends and Impacts on Access, Quality, and Costs,” U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del), a senior member of the committee, highlighted the need for increased transparency of health care costs and quality outcomes. With the continued consolidation of the health care industry, Senator Carper emphasized the growing concern over pharmacy benefit managers’ influence on the cost of prescription medications and access to quality care.

During the hearing, Senator Carper noted how transparency can drive better cost outcomes for patients:

“One of my top priorities as a member of this committee… has been lowering the price of prescription drugs. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act to lower the cost of prescription drugs… One part of expanding access to prescription medications is ensuring patients have the resources to compare prices. Today, hospitals are required to provide certain price transparency disclosures for their patients, but prescription drug prices don’t have similar transparency requirements. This lack of transparency is especially troubling when it comes to pharmacy benefit managers which are often able to secure cost savings, but do not always pass [the savings] on to patients.”

Senator Carper highlighted the effects of horizontal consolidation for patients in rural communities:

“We have three counties and the largest county is called Sussex County… but it’s still a rural county. I ask this question with Sussex County in mind. Access to comprehensive health care services are essential in rural communities, including the ones I’ve just described in southern Delaware. Smaller hospitals, like Tidal Health and Bay Health in Delaware, experienced great benefits from horizontal consolidation. However, research has shown that some mergers across the country have increased costs to federal health plans and to patients.”

A video of Senator Carper’s questions at today’s hearing can be found here.