Slavitt: Health Care ‘Retailization’ Is Coming

By Dan Diamond
Politico Pulse, March 1, 2016

Speaking at the Federation of American Hospitals annual meeting on Monday, CMS acting administrator Andy Slavitt invited providers to join the agency’s ongoing push for the “retailization” of health care.

“A retail strategy calls on you to imagine you are negotiating directly with a cash paying consumer who used to be a source of bad debt — except one who now has the wherewithal to pay for services and wants to build a relationship where they can also find elective, outpatient and wellness services,” Slavitt said. He went on to elaborate about the need for further price and billing transparency in health care — just like in other consumer markets.

Yesterday, at the annual meeting of the Federation of American Hospitals, Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt asked the for-profit hospitals to join CMS’s ongoing push for the “retailization” of health care.Retailization? Providers should imagine negotiating with cash paying consumers. They should strive for “further price and billing transparency in health care — just like in other consumer markets.”

Could there be a more explicit advocacy of consumer-driven health care – placing the patient-consumer in charge of health care spending? It fits with CMS’s efforts to privatize Medicare by over-paying the private Medicare Advantage plans, with overtures to convert Medicare to a premium support (voucher) market of private plans.

Politics? This is coming from an administration headed by a Democrat – a neoliberal administration that has been mislabeled as progressive – and supported by a presidential candidate who rejects Medicare for All and wants to build on Obamacare with its high deductible private health plans that place the patient-consumer in charge.

Retailization. Watch out, here it comes!