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Capitol Correspondence - 10.01.18

Secretary Azar and Administrator Verma Set Tone for FY2019

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In two highly publicized speeches last week, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma spoke about key themes in the Administration and their work that should set up policy in this upcoming federal fiscal year.

Secretary Azar spoke at the Nashvile Health Council on September 27 and focused on explaining why the Affordable Care Act has not been successful, while also pointing out that new policy developments around “Medicare for all” will similarly not be beneficial to Americans.

Administrator Verma spoke at the 2018 Medicaid Managed Care Summit in Washington, DC on September 27 and issues of note include the following:

  • Verma spoke about the three key themes that have been focused on this past year and lead them into the future: “flexibility, accountability and integrity”
  • Verma mentioned again the focus of regulations at CMS: “ we are proposing modifications to a few of our regulations; including the Medicaid Access to Care Rule and the Medicaid Managed Care Rule.” Note from ANCOR: In a previous rendition of the speech she also mentioned the HCBS Settings Rule but that reference was subsequently removed.
  • Verma spoke of the approval of work requirements proposed by several states and the goal to approving more states with the work requirement request not only for Medicaid but also SNAP and TANF, but also mentioned “we’ve worked carefully to design important protections to ensure that states exempt individuals who have disabilities, are medically frail, serve as primary caregivers…”
  • Referenced President Reagan in sharing his quote “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many people are added.”
  • She announced that CMS will issue a new rendition of their state scorecards with expanded measures
  • Verma spoke about the 12 million Americans who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, recognizing their cost to the system and recommending they are enrolled in integrated care systems to receive better care.
  • Verma referenced that Medicaid spending reports have surfaced suggesting even greater growth than expected (see next article please)
  • She suggested that CMS is looking into how data can support oversight in better ways than currently being used.
  • She made this warning about managed care providers: “Transparency must also extend to our health plan partners. This room understands well that nearly all newly eligible individuals in Medicaid are served through managed care organizations. I’m putting you on notice now – CMS will begin targeted audits to ensure that provider claims for actual health care spending matches what the health plans are reporting financially.”

Links to both speeches are below.