FTC Staff Comment Regarding Amendments to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act Regarding Health Care Contract Data, Which Would Classify Health Plan Provider Contracts As Public Data

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FTC staff submitted a comment, in response to a request by Minnesota state legislators Joe Hoppe and Melissa Hortman, regarding the possible competitive effects of a recently enacted amendments to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act that would treat the State’s health plan contract terms as presumptively government records that the public can ask to see by making a freedom of information request. According to the staff comment, disclosing the negotiated terms of health plan contracts may offer little benefit to health care consumers but could pose a substantial risk of reducing competition in health care markets. For example, the amendments may lead to the disclosure of competitively sensitive price and cost information that could enable health care providers to see what terms health plans are offering their competitors and to use that information against the plans during negotiations. Such disclosure of price and cost information could also enable competing health care providers to agree in advance on terms that they each will offer to health plans, instead of trying to outbid each other by offering better terms to win the contract. These concerns are heightened in Minnesota’s health care markets, which already see reduced competition because there are fewer competing providers.