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Lawmaker wants to lower healthcare costs across the state

Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 21:01:28-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A group of TN lawmakers are looking for new ways to lower health care costs for patients throughout the state.

Joined by speaker Cameron Sexton, state Representatives like Robin Smith are trying to take on new ideas to decrease costs for both procedures and medication in Tennessee.

One idea, according to Smith, would involve patients receiving a higher percent discount from rebates offered to health insurance companies from drug manufacturers. Smith said prescription costs should be dropping, but instead are staying the same or even increasing. Smith gave the following example of what she sees happening:

"Let's say the drug manufacturer says I'll give you a 25% discount because of all of patients that are a part of your network," Smith said. "The patient is only getting 10."

Smith wants to have a conversation with insurance companies about this practice. She's in prime position to create legislation as the chairman of the insurance committee.

"We invest so much money on treating decline," Smith said. "The cost of treating death and disease is disproportionate to that which we offer on the end of wellness and health. As we begin to put patients in control of their healthcare spending, not only are they appreciating the fact that they're able to make an impact on those costs that are coming out of pocket. You take better care of that which you're insuring. Your health, when you begin to control your destiny."

Smith has another idea that would help with price visibility for procedures across Tennessee. She'd like to create a cost database of doctors visits and other information that could create a health care shopping experience online. It would use information from other patient procedures.

"You could find the range of costs that have been reimbursed and you could say, 'Well, I called my lab and they're asking me to pay $250. But, I see the cost and I can see the claims that have been filed in the state of Tennessee, or the ones I have information for that $100 is actually the average.' I can still shop around and get a better value," Smith said referencing a standard procedure such as a blood draw.

Smith said she would like to change Tennessee's healthcare to be more forward thinking, rather than just patients reacting to bills they receive after doctors or hospital visits.