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July 15, 2021

Wide Ranging Presidential Executive Order Issued on Economy

On July 9, President Biden issued an executive order on promoting competition in America that affects the healthcare sector in several ways. The order 1) directs the Food and Drug Administration to work with states and tribes to safely import prescription drugs from Canada, pursuant to the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003; 2) directs the Health and Human Services Administration (HHS) to increase support for generic and biosimilar drugs, which provide low-cost options for patients; 3) directs HHS to issue a comprehensive plan within 45 days to combat high prescription drug prices and price gouging, and 4) encourages the FTC to ban “pay for delay” and similar agreements by rule.

In 2017, Congress passed a bipartisan proposal to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter. However, the Food and Drug Administration failed to issue the necessary rules that would actually allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter, leaving millions of Americans without low-cost options even though experts agree that medical evaluation is not necessary. The executive orderdirects HHS to consider issuing proposed rules within 120 days for allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter. 

: Hospital consolidation has left many areas, especially rural communities, without good options for convenient and affordable healthcare service. The Executive Order underscores that hospital mergers can be harmful to patients and encourages the Justice Department and FTC to review and revise their merger guidelines to ensure patients are not harmed by such mergersdirects HHS to support existing hospital price transparency rules and to finish implementing bipartisan federal legislation to address surprise hospital billing.

Health Insurance
: 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 Executive Order directs HHS to standardize plan options in the National Health Insurance Marketplace so people can comparison shop more easily.