The Biden administration issued an executive order (EO) on July 9 titled “Promoting Competition in the American Economy.” The EO spans a number of economic sectors and federal agencies, and the accompanying fact sheet states that the EO aims to “promote competition in the American economy” that the administration asserts will “lower prices for families, increase wages for workers, and promote innovation and even faster economic growth.”
The EO contains several directives to federal agencies and departments to lower the cost of prescription drugs, including a directive to the Food and Drug Administration to import prescription drugs in partnership with states and tribes. It also directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue “a comprehensive plan within 45 days to combat high prescription drug prices and price gouging.”
Also included in the EO is a directive to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to “review and revise” guidelines pertaining to hospital mergers, asserting that “hospitals in consolidated markets charge far higher prices than hospitals in markets with several competitors.” It also directs the HHS to finish implementing new surprise billing legislation and to also “support existing hospital price transparency rules.”
The EO also directs the HHS to promote the ability to more easily comparison shop by standardizing plan options in the National Health Insurance Marketplace. “Consolidation in the health insurance industry has meant that many consumers have little choice when it comes to selecting insurers. And even when there is some choice, comparison shopping is hard because plans offered on the exchanges are complicated—with different services covered or different deductibles,” the accompanying fact sheet stated.