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Verma Responds to MFAR Critics

CMS administrator Seema Verma addresses criticism of her agency’s proposed Medicaid fiscal accountability regulation in a new commentary on the CMS blog.

Critics of the so-called MFAR regulation have argued that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposed regulation, if adopted, will lead to a reduction of federal funding for state Medicaid programs, jeopardize access to care and the financial health of providers by leading to a reduction of supplemental payments to high-volume Medicaid providers, and possibly even force some states to raise taxes to compensate for the loss of federal funding.

In her commentary Verma rebuts these criticisms, maintaining that the proposed regulation seeks to ensure that states pay their fair share of their Medicaid partnership with the federal government, raise that share in a manner consistent with federal guidelines, and spend it in ways that fall within regulatory standards.  She also maintains that the regulation will foster greater transparency and accountability for the Medicaid program.

Verma notes that more than 4000 stakeholders submitted written comments in response to the proposed regulation.  NASH was among those commenters, writing that MFAR would give too much authority to federal regulators; create new administrative burdens for hospitals and state governments; and inappropriately limit state financing of their share of Medicaid spending.

Learn more from the Verma CMS blog commentary “Medicaid Fiscal Integrity: Protecting Taxpayers and Patients” and from NASH’s letter in response to the proposed regulation.

 

Verma Responds to Medicaid Block Grant Critics

Last week the Trump administration unveiled its Healthy Adult Opportunity program, a new, optional, already-controversial approach to structuring state Medicaid programs.

Ever since, the program – essentially, Medicaid block grants – has been the subject of criticism from many public officials and health care stakeholders.

Now, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma, who oversaw the development of Healthy Adult Opportunity, has responded to the program’s critics in an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post.  See her commentary “No, the Trump administration is not cutting Medicaid.

Interview With Seema Verma

In late December, PBS broadcast an interview with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma.  Kaiser Health News has published a transcript of excerpts from that interview during which Verma discusses Medicaid – including enrollment, eligibility, services, and children – Medicare for all, administration attempts to reduce health care costs, protection for people with pre-existing conditions, and more.  Read those excerpts in the Kaiser Health News article “One-On-One With Trump’s Medicare And Medicaid Chief: Seema Verma.”

Verma Addresses Medicaid Issues

Yesterday, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma spoke at a conference of the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

In addition to discussing a proposed regulation posted earlier in the day that would introduce changes in the regulation of state financing of their Medicaid programs, Verma also addressed:

  • Medicaid demonstration programs
  • Medicaid work requirements
  • a shift toward value-based payments
  • better coordination of care for the dually eligible (individuals serve by both Medicaid and Medicare)
  • enrollment issues
  • improvements in the efficiency of the federal Medicaid bureaucracy

Because private safety-net hospitals care for so many more Medicaid patients than the typical hospital, these issues are especially important to them.

Read Verma’s complete remarks here.

CMS Shares Vision for Medicaid

Medicaid is about to undergo major changes, CMS administrator Seema Verma outlined in a news release yesterday and in a speech to state Medicaid directors.

According to the news release, those changes include:

  • re-establishing a state-federal partnership that Verma believes has become too much federal and not enough state
  • giving states greater freedom to innovate
  • offering new guidelines for how states can align their individual programs with federal Medicaid objectives
  • new guidance on section 1115 waivers
  • longer section 1115 waivers with simpler review processes
  • CMS willingness to consider proposals to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries
  • Medicaid and CHIP “scorecards” that track and publish state and federal Medicaid and CHIP outcomes

Urban safety-net hospitals serve more Medicaid patients than the typical hospital and would therefore be affected more by any major changes in how Medicaid operates.

Go here to see CMS administrator Verma’s full new release and to find links to relevant documents, web sites, and Ms. Verma’s speech about the changes.  Go here to read a Washington Post report on Ms. Verma’s speech and here to see a Kaiser Health News report.

CMS Announces Drive to Reduce Paperwork

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is launching a new “Meaningful Measures” initiative that will seek to reduce the regulatory burden on health care providers.

According to a CMS news release, Meaningful Measures

…will involve only assessing those core issues that are most vital to providing high-quality care and improving patient outcomes.  The agency aims to focus on outcome-based measures going forward, as opposed to trying to micromanage processes..

In a speech at the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network, CMS administrator Seema Verma explained that this project will include moving the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in a new direction that promotes greater flexibility and patient engagement and implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) in ways that minimize the burden and cost of complying with the law’s requirements.

To learn more about this new CMS initiative, see this CMS news release or go here to read Ms. Verma’s remarks.