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Capitol Correspondence - 11.17.20

CMS Administrator Seema Verma Issued Final Address to National Association of Medicaid Directors

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We share this reporting by Politico Pulse so that our members can understand the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) approach during the lame duck period before the new Biden-Harris administration is sworn in.

“SEEMA VERMA’s CLOSING MESSAGE TO MEDICAID DIRECTORS: MEDICAID IS EXPENSIVE AND UNDERWHELMINGThe CMS administrator panned the program she administers in virtual remarks to the National Association of Medicaid Directors, likely her last big address to the group before Inauguration Day.

‘Despite its extraordinary and growing costs, Medicaid rarely produces results worth bragging about,’ Verma said near the start of her 24-minute address. ‘Only about half of adults on Medicaid report that their health care needs were met all the time and far too many babies are born prematurely or with serious health conditions.’

Verma also defended ideas like the Trump administration’s stalled work requirements — which have been blocked in court — attacking “those who have sought to weaponize the legal system to thwart state innovation.” She also hinted that the controversial Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule could still be rolled out, after the administration paused the proposal this fall.

— Verma’s remarks didn’t sit well with public health experts, who were concerned about her name-checking MFAR and rebutted some of her claims about the program’s performance. ‘It’d be hard to pick a worse public health outcome than premature delivery to argue for Medicaid’s general ineffectiveness,’ tweeted the University of Chicago’s Harold Pollack.

They also disputed Verma’s framing of ideas like work requirements as part of Trump’s “anti-poverty agenda,” noting that the initiative has been linked to coverage losses.

‘State empowerment is important but implementing policy that has been shown to not work is malpractice,’ added Andrey Ostrovsky, who served as Medicaid’s chief medical officer earlier in the Trump administration.”