House has passed Guthrie’s bills to increase health-care price transparency, allow inmates to file for Medicaid before release

Kentucky Health News

Second District U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, told his hometown newspaper that the House had passed his bills to increase transparency in medical costs and allow inmates to pre-file for Medicaid benefits before they are released.

The Lower Costs, More Transparency Act is intended to “drive prices down organically rather than through direct congressional action,” Jack Dobbs of the Bowling Green Daily Newsreports. “Guthrie said the bill requires medical providers to offer quotes for procedures and medications before taking action, allowing both individual patients and employers to know how much they will pay beforehand.

“We want to engage these big employer groups so that they can drive the market to get control of the cost, because the costs keep getting passed on to the point where it’s just unsustainable,” Guthrie said.

Dobbs writes, “The act would also require any rebates be returned to a patient rather than absorbed by an insurance company’s profit. Guthrie said this was a policy passed during the Trump administration but undone through the Inflation Reduction Act.

The House has also sent to the Senate a Guthrie-sponsored reauthorization of the SUPPORT (Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment) for Patients and Communities Act. The current law was passed in 2018.

“The act, in part, creates grant opportunities that help states bolster substance abuse treatment capabilities. It also offers substance abuse treatment coverage for children in foster care,” Dobbs reports. “Guthrie said jail is no solution to addiction issues, but many who suffer from addiction end up incarcerated anyway.”

The reauthorization bill would allow inmates to pre-file for Medicaid benefits when they know their release date. “So on day one, they qualify for Medicaid when they walk out of the jail and can go right into a treatment program,” Guthrie said. 

If someone on Medicaid is jailed, the federal-state program no longer covers their expenses and the state government picks up all the cost. Guthrie told Dobbs that it can take up to 30 days to reapply for Medicaid, posing risks to those in need of substance-abuse intervention.

“Guthrie said he wants to see more continuing services readily offered, such as sober living facilities or halfway houses, to remove people with addictions from environments that put them at risk,” Dobbs reports. “He added that employment training adds another layer to treatment by removing individuals from harm and encouraging stability. It’s a win-win both for those in recovery and businesses needing employees, Guthrie said.”

The reauthorization bill would also put on the federal controlled-substances list Xylazine, an animal sedative that is known as “Tranq” and sometimes mixed with drugs like fentanyl for illicit use. “Guthrie said Xylazine is particularly dangerous because Narcan can not revive someone who has overdosed on it,” Dobbs reports.

Politics: Guthrie, a relatively moderate Republican, told Dobbs that he plans to support former President Trump if he is nominated and thinks “the primaries are over” but former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is “a good candidate and would be a good president.”

“There are experts saying 250,000 people in five to seven states are going to determine who the next president is,” Guthrie said. “I think Republicans need to get together and know that that we offer a better solution than where we are today.”

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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